Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser was on his official visit to Tbilisi on April 24 to meet with the country’s political leaders and discuss the integration of Georgia into the European Union and NATO.
Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, who hosted his Estonian counterpart, told the journalists at their joint press briefing after the meeting that the two spoke about Estonia’s support to Georgia’s European integration, specifically in the context of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
— Mikheil Janelidze (@JanelidzeMkh) April 24, 2017
As part of the Estonian Presidency, which is to be commenced on July 1 and which is to last for six months, Estonia will be responsible for defining the positions of the Council of the European Union, one of the two main decision-making EU institutions.
“I am glad, that during Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, one of the priorities will be specifically the cooperation between the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries,” Janelidze noted at the press briefing. Janelidze added that the two also spoke on the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels in November, “an important event [that] determines the future prospects for cooperation with partner countries.”
Georgian officials have said on numerous occasions that they expect the Eastern Partnership Summit to deliver a clear message to Georgia on the country’s EU membership perspective.
“We acknowledge that the Eastern Partnership countries have a very varied degrees of ambition when it comes to European integration,” Sven Mikser said in his remarks.
“Georgia is a success story of the Eastern Partnership, a country that has set for itself a very ambitious goal of full membership of the European Union and even though, I believe it is still long way to go, it’s very important to be fully prepared when the window of opportunity opens,” he also stated.
Before then, Mikser went on, Georgia needs to implement the reforms “that are necessary to achieve that goal.” “[The reforms] may seem sometimes painful, but these reforms are good for Georgia’s competitiveness, for the economic development, for the opportunity of the Georgian people, irrespective of when exactly the eventual goal will be achieved.”
“We are there to help you, to assist you, to advise you, in all ways possible,” he added.
Mikser spoke on Georgia’s NATO aspirations as well, calling Georgia “an exemplary partner in contributing in very significant ways to NATO-led operations and also thinking and working very constructively in the regional context, in the Black Sea area.”
The Estonian Foreign Minister added that the country is in favor “of the open door policy” and pledged support to Georgia in taking “full advantage” of all available formats, including the Enhanced Opportunities Partnership and the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package
Following the press briefing, Sven Mikser left for Khurvaleti, a village adjacent to Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia which has been split in two by the Russian barbed wire and thus became a symbol of Russia’s encroachment on the Georgian territory.
— Estonian MFA (@MFAestonia) April 24, 2017
In Khurvaleti, Mikser reaffirmed support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “South Ossetia and Abkhazia are integral parts of Georgia,” he noted.
Mikser stressed that it is important to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, including through the continuation of the Geneva International Discussions. In the words of the Minister, “unlawful Russian activity in the occupied territories damages the efforts to find a peaceful solution and therefore threatens regional security and stability.”
Mikser also expressed his concern over the impact of Russian activities on the human rights and the humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and added that it important to maintain the attention of the international community on the two regions.