President Salome Zurabishvili has landed in Nicosia and met her counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades on November 9. This is the first state visit of a Georgian president to the Republic of Cyprus. Bilateral relations and Cyprus’ support on the path of Georgia’s European integration are on the agenda.
At a joint press briefing following the meeting, President Zurabishvili stressed the importance of Cyprus’ support at the upcoming European Council meeting as well as the Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled in December.
President Zurabishvili described the December Summit as a pivotal event and expressed hope to”see what the next steps will be on the current path of our rapprochement with the EU.” Georgian officials expressed their aspiration to file for the EU candidacy in 2024.
Georgia is waiting to receive not only political messages of support but also “a course of action to see where we are going,” be it sectoral integration or large-scale infrastructure projects, President Zurabishvili said. “One principle is inevitable for us that no large-scale infrastructure projects or formats should exist in this [Caucasus] region without the EU’s involvement.”
Referring to Cyprus’ journey towards the EU, culminating with its membership in 2004, President Zurabishvili said the Mediterranean country “has already walked the path we are on today” and “knows how much it depends on the inside support of all member states and not just a few.”
President Zurabishvili also thanked Cyprus for gifting a plot of land to Georgia to build a new religious monument on a site of a 10th-century Georgian monastery.
“This is a very symbolic step because we are more accustomed to being robbed of territories than to being given territories,” she said referring to Russia’s continued occupation in Georgia.
President Anastasiades, on his part, said in a tweet on November 9 that the two countries “enjoy an excellent bilateral cooperation and traditional bonds of friendship,” stressing the discussions “can serve as a platform for the further advancement of the existing relations between our two countries at all levels.”
According to the Georgian President’s press service, in an extended meeting between the Presidents, the sides also discussed the humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied territories, deepening political and economic relations, cultural initiatives for celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Cyprus, and the importance of small states’ joint efforts in overcoming global challenges.
The Georgian President also met Cyprus’ Speaker of the House of Representatives Annita Demetriou and the Georgian diaspora.
President Zurabishvili’s visit was marred by a rally of a group of Georgians, who urged the President to speak with the crowd in front of a building she was leaving. They also hurled insults, calling Zurabishvili “a slave” of Bidzina Ivanishvili, ruling Georgian Dream party founder, and ex-PM.
The Georgian President will conclude her trip to Cyprus late this evening.