Georgian, Austrian Presidents Meet in Vienna

President Salome Zurabshvili met Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen as part of her October 11-13 visit to Vienna. 

In a joint press conference after the meeting, President Zurabishvili highlighted ties between the two states in the energy sector as well as education and science. It would be very important for Georgian students in Austria to be required to pay the same tuition fee as EU nationals, she stressed.

The Georgian President pointed out that “difficulties” in Austrian politics revealed “how important the President’s role can be in a parliamentary republic to unify the powers and maintain stability.”

President Zurabishvili said that although Georgia is not “in the same situation,” it is essential for its President to remain a key driving force for stability and depolarization as well. “This is probably our common duty,” she added.

Taking up a journalist’s question, President Zurabishvili continued on discussing polarization. She noted that despite differences there is a consensus on de-occupation and European integration among Georgian political forces, which “should allow us to talk to each other.”

Responding to another question, she talked about Georgia’s 2024 EU membership bid, stressing the need for the country to carry out reforms actively, including in the judiciary. In this regard, Georgia’s progress is “inevitable,” according to the President.

“If there is some form fatigue in the EU toward enlargement, this syndrome is not present in Georgia,” President Zurabishvili also noted.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen in his address discussed similarities between the two countries, including the importance of tourism for economies of both, as reported by his press service.

He highlighted expanding the economic ties between the two states, pointing at the potential for Austrian companies in renewable energy, tourism and infrastructure of Georgia.

President Van der Bellen also commended his counterpart on efforts in tackling the political crisis in Georgia. He said he joins the hope of international election observers that polarization will end in the country.

Also on October 12, the two Presidents attended the Austria-Georgia Business Forum, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Austria. President Zurabishvili also met Georgians working in Austria in arts and the medical field. 

The Georgian President is also set to meet with the Secretary General of OSCE Helga Schmid. Following the meeting, the President will host a conference named “Women for Peace.” President Zurabishvili’s administration reported this was the first visit by a Georgian President to Austria. 

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