President Salome Zurabishvili has met with Swiss President Guy Parmelin in Bern, the capital, and held series of meetings with officials from international organizations in Geneva as part of her October 13-15 visit to Switzerland.
In press remarks after the meeting today, President Zurabishvili stressed the role of Switzerland following the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, as the country represents the diplomatic interests of Tbilisi to Moscow, and vice versa.
The Georgian President said President Parmelin’s role was also important in the release of arbitrarily detained Zaza Gakheladze from custody in occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia. According to the Georgian President, her Swiss counterpart had raised the issue with the Russian leadership.
President Zurabishvili also adressed military build-up in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region, as well as humanitarian situation in both Russian-occupied regions.
“Unfortunately in the Geneva [International] Discussions, that concluded recently, we cannot see an improvement of the circumstances, or an upcoming decision that could resolve these very difficult and severe circumstances,” she noted.
During the meeting, the Georgian and Swiss Presidents discussed “expanding economic ties as well as Switzerland’s good offices and long-standing engagement in the South Caucasus,” said a press release published jointly by Swiss Foreign and Economic Departments.
The two officials also went over Switzerland’s 2022-2025 cooperation strategy, with its proposed contribution to Georgia remaining at CHF 34 million (USD 36.8 million). According to the same report, Georgia and Switzerland plan to step up cooperation in energy and the fight against climate change.
The meeting was also attended by Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the Foreign Minister.
Meetings in Geneva
Ahead of the trip to Bern, President Zurabishvili visited Geneva, where she met on October 14 Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The President discussed arbitrary detentions of Georgian citizens by the Russian occupying forces, and the human rights situation in the occupied regions, stated the Georgian Presidential Administration.
The statement followed that banning teaching in the Georgian language in the Gali district of occupied Abkhazia was mentioned at the meeting as a sign of ethnic discrimination.
According to the same report, the discussion also covered Georgia’s 2021 local polls and deep political polarization, while the Georgian President also noted the insufficient involvement of women in municipal elections.
Also on October 14, President Zurabishvili sat down with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. The Presidential Administration said the accessibility of COVID-19 treatments and Georgia’s vaccination rates were the discussion topics at the meeting, but the two officials also talked about developing digital technologies in healthcare.
President Zurabishvili also on October 14 held separate meetings with Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Daren Tang, and Director General of International Labor Organization, Guy Ryder.
President Zurabishvili’s trip to Switzerland concludes today. She arrived in the country following her visit to Vienna, Austria, where she had met OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid, female ambassadors of the OSCE member states, as well as Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.