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Polish, Swedish and Bulgarian Foreign Ministers visit Georgia

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, December 14
The Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolay Mladenov and Head of the Chancellery of the President of Poland Jacek Michalowski, visited Georgia to discuss Georgia’s internal development, regional issues, and foreign policy on December 12th-13th.

“Everything that is going on in Georgia is very important for us,” Jacek Michalowski said after meeting Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze before stressing that “peaceful cohabitation” is an important “school of democracy.”

Stressing the dedication of the Georgian government to reforms and European integration Carl Bildt positively assessed the recent parliamentary elections as a sign of Georgia’s democratic development. He added that he hoped the upcoming presidential election in 2013 and local self-government elections in 2014 would improve the standards of democracy in Georgia.

Bildt said the consensus of the Georgian people on Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration strengthens Georgia’s position among different European councils. “Supremacy of law is a fundamental part of democracy and I think dialogue in this direction should be deepened,” Bildt said. He added that various European institutions are ready to assist Georgia during this transition period.

The Bulgarian Foreign Minister also expressed his hopes that Georgia will avoid the mistakes of other countries with developing economies.

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said “the new dynamic” of Georgia-Russian relations was among the subjects she discussed with her foreign colleagues.

The European diplomats discussed future military cooperation vis-a-vis training and other educational programs with Defense Minister Irakli Alasania. Minister Alasania said as partners in the ISAF mission they discussed Georgia’s further strategy for ensuring security in Afghanistan. The European foreign ministers also learned about the reforms planned in the Defense Ministry and discussed Georgia’s integration with Euro-Atlantic structures.

Democratic processes and the reforms carried out by the former government were the main issues of discussion with President Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday.

Carl Bildt said the foreign ministers congratulated the President for the successful transition period after October’s parliamentary elections.

Meeting with the European diplomats United National Movement (UNM) members discussed the steps made for integration with the European Union. Explaining that Georgia is facing a new political reality Carl Bildt stressed the importance of continuing democratic development. He said it is very important that Georgia respects democratic rights and principles if it wants to continue down the path towards Europe.

Bulgarian Minister Nikolay Mladenov said the Georgian elections were observed very closely. Welcoming the peaceful transition of power he said it is now important to become more familiar with the opinions of the government and the opposition and continue supporting Georgia's aspirations at joining NATO and the EU.

However, Secretary General of UNM Vano Merabishvili characterized the "interrogations, threats, and oppression" of his team members as "anti-democratic". He said the government should confront the opposition with ideas rather than pressure. In response Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili said all “past” questions should be answered without staying in the past.

UNM member and former State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze said the UNM will always support initiatives aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in Georgia as well as promotion of Georgia’s foreign aspirations. “We should try to oppose to the current government's actions which are damaging the country.” Baramidze stated.

According to the Polish Foreign Minister, Polish-Swedish-Bulgarian visit to Georgia is part of a South Caucasus trip aimed at learning about the domestic political situation of the countries in the region. The trip is aimed at determining the observance of the rule of law before presidential elections which will take place in all three South Caucasian countries in 2013.