FM Zalkaliani Visits Lithuania
Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, has held meetings with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, top diplomat Gabrielius Landsbergis and Seimas Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, as part of his January 19-21 trip to Vilnius.
The visit is held against the backdrop of strained relations between the Western states and Russia over the latter’s military build-up in and around Ukraine, as well as demands that NATO forgoes its pledge that Georgia and Ukraine will eventually become its members.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry stated that at FM Zalkaliani’s meeting with President Nausėda the sides discussed the current security environment, the dialogue with Russia and the aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine. The officials also stressed the importance of coordinating with NATO, the U.S. and other partners amid the ongoing developments.
The top Georgian diplomat briefed the Lithuanian President also reviewed the situation in Georgia’s Russian-occupied regions, and Russia’s actions negatively impacting the humanitarian and security environment on the ground, according to the report.
President Nausėda on his part told the Georgian official that Lithuania will continue to support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, but the success and speed of integration would largely depend on effective implementation of reforms and ensuring political stability in the country, according to the President’s press office.
Noting that the Eastern Partnership Summit of December should be a strong impetus for Georgia, the President stressed that Georgia needs to continue with reforms to consolidate democracy and strengthen institutions and the judiciary.
On January 19, at the meeting of Georgian and Lithuanian top diplomats, the sides touched upon the Allied states’ position that the NATO’s open door policy will not be revised, as well as recent developments in the South Caucasus and Georgia’s EU integration agenda, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry.
FM Zalkaliani stated after the meeting that as Georgia’s Western allies aim to achieve de-escalation and to find a compromise in talks with Russia, the red lines have been “clearly drawn” – the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine and the right of the countries to choose their own security arrangements.
The Lithuanian diplomat, while supporting Tbilisi’s goal to deepen its integration into the European Union and NATO, told his counterpart that Georgia’s “ambitious” 2024 EU membership bid requires “a lot of homework.”
“We encourage Georgia to continue to implement complex reforms,” said the diplomat, going on to also underline the importance of bringing all political forces together and putting the interests of the state and its people first.
FM Landsbergis argued that the EU-brokered April 19 agreement – that the ruling Georgian Dream party declared void within months after signing it – remains “important for the achievement of political consensus and for the future success of the reform process in the country.”
Meanwhile, FM Zalkaliani’s discussions with Seimas Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen on January 20 revolved around bilateral cooperation between the two countries’ Parliaments, as well as the implementation of Georgia’s EU association agreement, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry.
Ahead of the trip to Vilnius, the Georgian top diplomat on January 17-18 visited Brussels, where he met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Permanent Representatives of Allied States.
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