Georgian delegation, led by Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and comprised of Defense, Foreign and Justice Ministers, Irakli Garibashvili, Davit Zalkaliani and Tea Tsulukiani, respectively, held a series of meetings with their counterparts on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference on February 14-16.
Following his meeting with the United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the first day of the conference, PM Gakharia met with his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama. The two sides discussed “the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories of Georgia, and the importance of its EU integration.” “We agreed to continue to enhance cooperation with Albania and other EU member states,” Gakharia tweeted.
The following day, Georgian PM met with his Romanian counterpart Ludovic Orban, with whom Gakharia discussed “the benefits of greater connectivity across the Black Sea region.”
Honored to participate in the @MunSecConf, the world’s leading forum for international security, to strengthen our direct communications w/ our partners & discuss the security challenges of the 21st century. #MSC2020 pic.twitter.com/HvvBs9WgeR
— Giorgi Gakharia (@GakhariaGiorgi) February 14, 2020
Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili spoke of deepening ties with his Finnish, Greek, Latvian and Montenegrin counterparts, Antti Kaikkonen, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Artis Pabriks and Predrag Bošković, respectively.
Foreign Minister Zalkaliani also held meetings with his Polish, Spanish, Liechtenstein, Slovenian, Czech and Croatian counterparts, Jacek Czaputowicz, Arancha González, Katrin Eggenberger, Miro Cerar, Tomáš Petříček and Gordan Grlić-Radman, respectively.
On February 14, FM Zalkaliani took part in the thematic dinner “Greater Black Sea Region: Competition for Sea Control or Sea Denial” co-hosted by the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and the New Strategy Center on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
On February 15, the Georgian FM, together with his Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts, Vadym Prystaiko and Aureliu Ciocoi, respectively, issued a joint letter, calling on the European Commission to take into account “the scale and ambitions” of the implemented and scheduled reforms of the EU’s three Eastern Partner countries – Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova – “within its strategic budgetary planning for the next seven years.”
Foreign officials on Georgia
On February 14, speaking of the Black Sea security in his doorstep remarks ahead of the Munich Security Conference, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “the Black Sea is of strategic importance for NATO and NATO has a presence in the Black Sea.”
“We have Allies like Bulgaria, Romania, and of course Turkey; and we have partners like Ukraine and Georgia. And we have increased our presence in the Black Sea region with more air policing, with presence at sea and on land,” Stoltenberg said.
He further noted that “Georgia is a close partner” of NATO, and that the Alliance works “closely” with Georgia.” “We support them on their efforts to implement reform, but we also welcome the fact that Georgia provides support to NATO in many different ways,” the NATO Secretary General stated.
In his opening remarks on February 14, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger also said that “we have to acknowledge that Russia has moved far away from Europe,” and “even if our belief in a sustainable Euro-Atlantic security architecture has been shattered” in Ukraine and Georgia, “it is our duty – as Germans, I think – to keep the door open to keep trying.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also referred to Georgia in his remarks in Munich. Speaking of respect for sovereignty of nations as “a secret of and central to our success,” he said “more than 30 years since the fall of the wall, countries that don’t respect sovereignty still threaten us. Some nations still desire empire.”
“Let’s talk about territorial integrity, or rather, those nations that have contempt for it. Russia has seized Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine and Georgia,” Pompeo stated.
I value U.S. contribution to security in t/region and to strong relations with its allies like 🇬🇪Grateful for having Mike Pompeo standing by 🇬🇪 to stop Russia’s occupation&disinformation campaign aimed at undermining Georgia's pro-Western integration processes @SecPompeo #MSC2020
— David Zalkaliani (@DZalkaliani) February 15, 2020
Georgian Foreign Minister Zalkaliani thanked Secretary Pompeo for the U.S. contribution “to security in the region and to strong relations with its allies like Georgia.” “Grateful for having Mike Pompeo standing by Georgia to stop Russia’s occupation and disinformation campaign aimed at undermining Georgia’s pro-Western integration processes,” Zalkaliani tweeted.