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Dutch FM pays official visit to Tbilisi after 10 year hiatus

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, January 23
Foreign Minister of the Netherlands Stef Blok, who paid official 2-day visit to Tbilisi, held a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Davit Zalkaliani. At the joint press conference after the meeting he said that Georgia is a 'very important country' for security and stability in the region and enjoys values like the rule of law, human rights and democratization.

According to the Georgian Foreign Ministry, this is the first official visit of the Dutch Foreign Minister to Georgia after a 10-year hiatus.

“Georgia has become a role model for democratic reforms,” Blok said, expressing hope for these high standards to be maintained. He said the Netherlands will continue to support Georgia implement reforms.

“We expect that free and fair parliamentary elections will be held in Georgia. It is important to uplift what separates us and engage in inclusive political dialogue that will strengthen Georgia as a democratic country. The Netherlands will continue Georgia's alliance with the ongoing reform process,” Blok commented, emphasizing Georgia’s commitment to reforms considering the country’s difficult security conditions.

He expressed concern over the occupation of Georgian territories and the worsening human rights situation on the ground. “The Netherlands is deeply concerned about the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, especially with regards to human rights,” he said. After the news conference, he left for the occupation line in the village of Odzisi to get acquainted with the situation on the ground.

The minister said that Georgia and the Netherlands had long and brilliant bilateral relations, which was reflected in the visit of Georgian PM Giorgi Gakharia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and meetings with his Georgian counterpart in various formats. The Netherlands is the 12th trading partner for Georgia and one of the leading investors, which strengthens our belief in Georgia's economic growth and future opportunities, said the Minister. He also praised Georgia's efforts on the path of Euro-Atlantic integration and emphasized Georgia as an important NATO partner.

According to Zalkaliani, yesterday’s meeting highlighted the common values and interests based on the existing cooperation between Georgia and the Netherlands.

“In this context, our common vision is based on the strengthening of an international order based on rules. We greatly appreciate the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as its participation in the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM), which is the only international mechanism to monitor the situation in the conflict zone,” said Zalkaliani, adding that the Netherlands has doubled the number of monitors and at this point there are 14 monitors in place.

According to the Georgian Foreign Minister, the situation in the occupied territories was also discussed at the meeting.

“I have once again made it clear that there is a need to increase the involvement of the international community, to make the most of all existing mechanisms and formats for the Russian Federation to fulfill its obligations under the August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement,” Zalkaliani said.

He also emphasized the importance of involvement of the international community in the process of dealing with security challenges.

Zalkaliani noted that, among other things, they discussed the agenda of bilateral relations and deepening of sectoral cooperation in the field of security, trade-economic relations and people-to-people contacts.

According to him, Georgia's European integration was also discussed at the meeting. Zalkaliani also noted that the Eastern Partnership Summit will be held in Brussels in June this year.