Yushchenko Visits Georgia

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko will pay an informal visit to Georgia on August 12-14 to strengthen the strategic political partnership between the two countries, the Ukrainian president’s press office reported on Thursday.

This will be Yushchenko’s first visit to Georgia in the capacity of president; while the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has visited Ukraine three times in 2005.

The signing of a joint memorandum on cooperation between Yushchenko and his Georgian counterpart will be the only official part of this visit. Details of this memorandum are not yet known, though the presidents have already signed two similar documents in previous months.

The first one, signed in January during Saakashvili’s visit to Ukraine, reiterates the two countries’ commitment to democratic development and the second one, signed in March, also in Ukraine, focuses on the nations’ strategic partnership and joint aspiration to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures.

During the visit Yushchenko is expected to travel to Georgia’s regions for sightseeing, including the eastern region of Kakheti and the town of Borjomi, where the two presidents will attend the opening ceremony of a reconstructed park in this resort town famous for its mineral waters. Reportedly, Yushchenko will also visit the mountainous region of Svaneti in north-west Georgia.

Victor Yushchenko initially planned to visit Georgia on July 26-29, but postponed the trip due to, the Ukrainian President’s press office states, his “overburdened schedule.”

Economic Ties

In parallel with deepening political cooperation, which has been on the rise since the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia and the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, economic ties have also strengthened recently between the two countries. However, economic analysts say that the two leaders should pay more attention to these issues, as there still remain numerous unexploited bilateral economic opportunities.

Currently Ukraine is Georgia’s third largest trading partner after Russia and Turkey with a total trade volume of USD 48.3 million, according to the official data of the first quarter of 2005. In 2004 Ukraine ranked only sixth, coming after Russia, Turkey, UK, Azerbaijan and the U.S. But Georgia has a huge trade gap with Ukraine – USD 40.3 million in the first quarter of 2005.

Some observers say that procurements of weaponry and armaments by the Georgian Defense Ministry from Ukraine played a key role in increasing the volume of trade with Ukraine. According to official data, unspecified types of armaments and ammunition worth USD 6.5 million were purchased from Ukraine in the first quarter of 2005.


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