Georgian, Italian Presidents Talk EU Bid in Rome

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has kicked off a trip to Rome, where she met today Italian President Sergio Mattarella to discuss Georgia’s EU membership bid and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

In a joint press briefing after the meeting, President Zurabishvili stressed that Italy is “one of those European countries that are most unwavering in support for Georgia’s integration and stands with us on this difficult, but very important path.”

She argued that support of Italy and Europe for Georgia’s EU bid “would be just decision for the 88% of the Georgian population who support Georgia’s integration.”

The backing would also be a recognition of “Georgia’s return to the European family and that its place is there,” she argued.

“It would again confirm that Georgia has a European and democratic future,” President Zurabishvili asserted, adding: “We are also aware that for this future, Georgia has huge responsibilities, and if the integration process is accelerated, so shall be our reforms process, and it should not be accompanied by any delays.”

In her address, the President also touched upon “the brutal Russian aggression” against Ukraine. “While the aggression may continue in various forms, it is already unsuccessful, as Europe has met it sober and united as never before; and decisions taken by Europe are firm and will not be changed easily.”

She also recalled Georgia’s experience of “facing the same aggression multiple times – in 1921, 1991, 2008.”

President Zurabishvili said she and her counterpart also discussed Georgia’s “path without any alternatives” to NATO. “Italy will stand with us, be it in participating in military exercises, cooperating with us in various missions, or supporting us in NATO.”

Discussing security issues, she noted that Georgia and Italy share the same view that the EU should come up with a strategy to maintain stability and peace in the Black Sea region.

Besides, in her remarks, President Zurabishvili spoke of “centuries-long relations between our two cultures and civilizations,” as well as further bolstering existing bilateral links.

Italy Supports Georgia’s European Path, President Mattarella Says

“Georgia, with its millennial history, has contributed to the great family of European civilization, and it is quite natural that today it aspires to become a full member of the European Union. Italy supports its European path,” President Mattarella asserted on his part. “We await the necessary steps from the [European] Commission.”

He argued that the EU-Georgia partnership calls for more attention as Russia’s war against Ukraine “causes strong repercussions in the Eastern Neighborhood.”

President Mattarella also noted that the stability and security of the Black Sea and the South Caucasus concern not only Georgia “but everyone, because they draw the attention of the entire international community.”

Speaking about the aggression against Ukraine, the Italian President also recalled the 2008 Russo-Georgian war and the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

He reiterated Italy’s support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stressed the importance of “constructive negotiations” within the framework of the Geneva International Discussions.

Overall, President Mattarella said that Tbilisi and Rome have a common vision “of the values on which the international community should be based: the repudiation of war, peaceful coexistence among peoples, respect for sovereignties and borders.”

About the President’s Trip to Italy

As part of the visit to Rome, the Georgian President is also set to meet Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, President of the Senate, the upper chamber of Parliament, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, and President of the Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico.

The President’s delegation also includes Deputy Foreign Minister Khatuna Tortladze and MP Beka Odisharia of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Chair of the Parliamentary Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee.

The visit to Italy comes as Georgia expects the European Commission to deliver its opinion on the country’s bid for EU membership.

The trip also made the first official visit of the Georgian President to Italy in 25 years, Georgia’s presidential administration reported.

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