Georgian, French Presidents Meet, Pledge to Deepen Ties

President Salome Zurabishvili paid her first official bilateral visit to France on February 17-19. Today, she met her French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron in Paris, to agree on enhanced cooperation.

At a joint press conference following the meeting, Zurabishvili spoke of the role that France played in brokering the 2008 ceasefire agreement between Georgia and Russia, and the country’s non-recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

In her remarks, President Zurabishvili hailed long ties between Georgia and France, and noted that she “deeply believes” that the Georgians have voted for her as “a European President,” who would be “the bridge” between Georgia and Europe, and between Georgia and France.

“We are the island of stability in the region, which is quite tense,” Zurabishvili said in her remarks, noting that France will support Georgia “in all of its needs.” She then noted that, the parties discussed transport route in the Black Sea region as well, bringing Georgia closer to its European partners “on the other side” of the sea.

On his part, President Macron thanked his Georgian counterpart for visiting France as president, and accepted Zurabishvili’s invitation to visit Georgia. According to Macron, France would continue to support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and contribute to conflict resolution.

The French President also said, that at the meeting, the two touched upon a wide range of issues on the bilateral agenda, among others – economy, countering illegal migration, and deepening of ties in education and culture. The two leaders also exchanged views on security environment in the South Caucasus and the Black Sea.

“I would like France to be an actor in development of the Black Sea routes, and that in this area of reinforced economic cooperation, our relations become much closer,” President Macron noted.

In defense and security fields, President Macron thanked Georgia for standing alongside the French troops in Central African Republic, and pledged for continued efforts in frames of enhanced NATO-Georgia cooperation, where France is in charge of the air defense component.

To further deepen their countries’ ties, the two presidents signed a declaration on launching a bilateral “Amilakhvari Dialogue” named after a decorated Georgian officer of the French Foreign Legion who died in combat for France in 1942. The more structured strategic cooperation Emmanuel Macron believes, “would give us the capacity to give more density and intensity to our relations, based on common projects.”

In Paris, Salome Zurabishvili met also with the first lady Brigitte Macron, President of the French Senate, Gérard Larcher, French leader women, and Georgian diaspora. She delivered a lecture at the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po Paris) – the university which Zurabishvili has graduated. The Georgian President discussed bilateral relations with the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) as well.

President Zurabishvili will be headed to Germany on February 20-21.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)