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Stubb calls for dialogue between Russia and Georgia

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, September 9
Finland continues to support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as its EU integration, Finnish Foreign Minister, Alexander Stubb said on Wednesday. He was speaking at a joint press conference with Grigol Vashadze, Georgian Foreign Minister. Stubb recalled August 2008, when he visited Georgia in his capacity as OSCE Chairman. He said he witnessed how people were fleeing the conflict zone. “We should do our best to return these people to their homes. The UN General Assembly resolution is a step in this direction,” Stubb noted.

Speaking to the Georgian journalists, the Finnish Foreign Minister said that any conflict has three stages: tension, discharging and the conflict resolution stage. He stressed the necessity of starting Georgian-Russian negotiations. “The resolution is the most complicated and lengthy process. Our representative at the UN is doing everything to help Georgia solve the conflict. There is also the Geneva format, which is very important,” Stubb noted. “Georgia should continue its economic modernisation in order to get closer to the EU and become a member, and it is a fact Georgia and Russia should sit at the negotiation’ table,” he added.

The Finnish Foreign Minister said that Georgia should “continue walking towards the EU”. He highlighted the significance of simplifying the visa regime between Georgia and the European Union. “Georgian citizens should eventually be able to travel to the EU states without visas. Free trade relations are also very important – this will bring the Georgian and the European peoples closer,” Stubb said.

Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze hailed his Finnish counterpart for his involvement in Russian-Georgian conflict resolution. “Alexander Stubb visited Georgia twice during the August 2008 conflict. He played an active role in stopping the Georgian-Russian conflict and achieving the ceasefire,” Vashadze noted. The Georgian Minister said that issues related to Georgia-EU and the Georgia-Finland relations were discussed at the meeting with Alexander Stubb. “Political relations between Georgia and Finland should become firmer through strengthening economic cooperation,” Vashadze said.

As part of his one-day visit to Georgia, Stubb met the Georgian Minister of Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili. The sides discussed the situation in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the problems of the IDPs in Georgia. The Finnish diplomat said he has spotted some “positive moves” in terms of the IDPs in the country. “It’s been two years since my last visit to Georgia and I am interested in everything that has happened in the country since then. I am interested in finding out the details of Geneva talks, the Russian-Georgian relations and the conditions of the IDPs. Some positive moves can be noticed in this respect,” Stubb said, referring to the living conditions of the IDPs from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.

Finland will “always be watchful” about Georgia’s territorial integrity, the Georgian Minister of Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili told journalists after his meeting with the Finnish Foreign Minister. “At the meeting we talked about the situation in the occupied territories. We told the Finnish Minister about the Georgian Government’s attitude towards these territories. We discussed all the issues in details and received the promise that Finland will always be watchful about Georgia’s territorial integrity and defend the rights of the IDPs and the refugees,” the Georgian Minister stated.