Prospects of deeper cooperation in political, trade-economic, and cultural areas were the key issues of the face-to-face meeting of Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and the President of the Republic of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, held on March 1 in Minsk.
Georgian, Belarus Presidents meet in Minsk
By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 3
The presidents also discussed recent regional developments and the situation in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
According to President Margvelashvili, by signing the so-called Treaty on Alliance and Integration, the Russian Federation has begun annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.
The Georgian President believes that the announced referendum on integrating Tskhinvali with the Russian Federation will have extremely negative outcomes for the security of Georgia and the entire region.
Margvelashvili underscored the extreme importance of the international community’s firm position in regards to illegal actions taken by the Russian Federation, in order to avoid the annexation of the occupied territories of Georgia.
Moreover, the Georgian side expressed readiness to share its experience in economic reforms, e-governance, and the fight against corruption with Belarusian colleagues.
As noted at the meeting, the Republic of Belarus is interested in those opportunities, which Georgia opens up for its partners through the Free Trade Area Agreement (DCFTA) and active cooperation with other regions.
The two presidents also expressed their readiness to strengthen cooperation in the areas of education and innovation.
The officials highlighted that opening of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus to Georgia significantly contributes to the further development of bilateral relations between the two countries.
At the extended meeting, President Margvelashvili said that cooperation between Georgia and Belarus is a prominent example of partnership between the countries with diverse political and economic orientations.
“Georgia is moving towards the EU and NATO integration, while Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Union. We respect each other's freedom of choice and the aspirations of our states towards different alliances are not a dividing line, but an advantage which should further strengthen relations between our countries,” the Georgian President noted.
The conversation also touched upon the importance of the Eastern Partnership Summit, which is scheduled for November 2017 in Brussels. It was noted that Georgia supports the flexibility of the Eastern Partnership format, which would meet the requirements, expectations, and interests of all participating countries.
The parties expressed interest in strengthening cooperation within the Eastern Partnership program, in regard to opportunities and resources from the set of common interests. According to President Margvelashvili, Georgia is ready to share its experience in regard to economic reforms with Belarusian colleagues.
Also, the governments of Georgia and the Republic of Belarus signed agreements on “the investment promotion and reciprocal protection” and “the air traffic".
After the meeting, the presidents made joint statements regarding their dialogue.
“I am glad to hear that Belarus is ready to strengthen relations with Georgia and to use all potential of our nations, in order to ensure the increase of well-being of our populations…we have discussed the issues of cooperation in various areas; trade growth, promotion of touristic potential, and the prospects of strengthening cooperation in the areas of culture and education,” Margvelashvili said and thanked his Belarusian counterpart for “a very interesting and all-encompassing dialogue”.
As President Lukashenko pointed out, Georgia represents a prospective and an important partner for the Republic of Belarus in the Caucasus region, with which the Republic has had diplomatic relations for more than 20 years.
“We trust each other and I am sure that by opening the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus to Georgia we will further contribute to our cooperation. We will do our best for our brotherly nation, and for the Georgian people,” Lukashenko said.