Georgian Foreign Minister Concludes Visit to Spain

Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani concluded his January 17-20 working visit to Madrid, where he attended the 113th session of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization, which reelected Georgian candidate Zurab Pololikashvili as its head.

During his visit to the Spanish capital, FM Zalkaliani also held meetings with his counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation Arancha González Laya, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, as well as had short meetings with King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry reported that during the January 18 meeting, the two foreign ministers welcomed “the high dynamics of the recent cooperation” between the two countries, while highlighting Minister Zalkaliani’s visit to Spain as a confirmation of this “close partnership.”

Minister Arancha González tweeted after the meeting that with FM Zalkaliani they discussed bilateral relations and the priority areas of multilateral cooperation, as well as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Georgian MFA quoted the Spanish Minister as saying that tourism, infrastructure, energy, and small and medium-sized businesses as areas of focus of bilateral relations.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry also stated that the ministers stressed the need to deepen economic ties between the countries, which enjoys particular importance in stimulating the COVID-hit economy.

The MFA of Georgia also noted that Minister González Laya expressed Spain’s “strong support” to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, while FM Zalkaliani introduced her to the Georgian Government’s decision to submit a formal application for EU membership in 2024.

On the same day, FM Zalkaliani held another meeting with Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, where they discussed the steps taken by the Georgian Government to enforce the rules of the EU visa-free regime, including the new law that tightens rules to exit Georgia for citizens traveling visa-free to the European Union/Schengen Area.

The two ministers, according to the Georgian MFA, discussed their readiness to support sealing the agreement on readmission. In addition, the parties talked about the possibility of recognizing Georgia-issued driving licenses in the southwestern European country.

With the Spanish Interior Minister, who also chairs the Coronavirus Emergency Coordination Council, Minister Zalkaliani also discussed Georgia’s immunization plan and Georgia’s undertaken efforts to obtain the vaccine.

On January 19, FM Zalkaliani participated in a reception of the Heads of the Delegations of the UNWTO Executive Council hosted by the King of Spain, Felipe VI.

During the reception, the Georgian Foreign Minister had a short exchange with the King, who “expressed its interest about the situation in Georgia and the region.” Georgian FM reportedly informed the Spanish Monarch about the geopolitical and security landscape in the region while thanking the King for the “unconditional and strong support” of Georgia’s pro-Western aspirations.

On the same day, on the sidelines of the UNWTO Executive Council session, FM Zalkaliani held another short meeting with Prime-Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez.

The Georgian Foreign Minister tweeted that he shared with the Spanიsh PM Georgian Government’s wish to host him in Georgia “as soon as conditions allow.”

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