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Swiss President Vows to Defuse Georgia-Russia Relations

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, December 5
(TBILISI) - While paying an official visit to the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Swiss President Doris Leuthard offered her country’s full support to Georgia in its drive towards further integration with Europe and its territorial integrity.

A historically neutral nation in the heart of Europe, Switzerland has played a key role in mediating international disputes and conflicts. The government in Berne has helped keep the diplomatic channels between Tbilisi and Moscow open in the wake of the 2008 Georgian-Russian War, when relations between the two former Soviet republics were officially broken off.

Switzerland handles all consular affairs for both Georgia and Russia after the two recalled their respective embassy staff following the war.

Leuthard reiterated in her meeting with the Georgian leadership that Berne will do its best to act as a constructive go-between to improve Georgian-Russian relations.

A new free trade agreement between Georgia and Switzerland will come into effect in 2018, a move that is expected to significantly boost trade between the two countries and increase Swiss investments into Georgia.

“We discussed deepening our cooperation in tourism, agriculture and energy…We’ll share our experiences with our Georgian counterparts in these key sectors,” said Leuthard.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili took time at a joint press conference with Leuthard to thank Switzerland for its support and to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

“It is important for Georgia to actively cooperate with Switzerland, a country that has firmly supported our sovereignty and territorial integrity over the years and a country that plays an important role in the absence of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia,” said Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

The two also discussed economic development and security matters the South Caucasus region.

Topping the list were discussions about potential Swiss investments into trade and tourism projects.