President Salome Zurabishvili held a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis today as part of her visit to Romania.
President Zurabishvili’s Remarks
War in Ukraine
President Zurabishvili began her speech by reiterating her condemnation of the airstrikes which took place in several Ukrainian cities yesterday and continued today.
Noting that she was delivering her remarks from Romania, which shares the longest border in the EU with Ukraine, the President underscored “we fully sympathize with the Ukrainian people, [about] what is happening today in cities across Ukraine, which is completely unacceptable for the entire civilized world.”
President Zurabishvili highlighted that Georgia and Romania “know a lot” about Russian imperial and Soviet policy, as well as “what aggression and occupation mean.” “We know what Russia can do and this is a transition to a new dimension of this aggression,” she said.
Referencing concerns that President Vladimir Putin may resort to using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, as well as the ongoing situation regarding mobilization in occupied territories, President Zurabishvili stated that “these are all continuations of brutal aggression that is unacceptable for the peaceful world.”
She also emphasized that the main weapon against Russian aggression is solidarity while declaring “the full solidarity of the Georgian people toward Ukraine.”
In that context, the President welcomed the EU and U.S. efforts in support of Ukraine’s struggle, which she said: “must undoubtedly end in victory because this is where the fight for peace, freedom, and independence for us all, for the whole of Europe, is being fought for.”
During her speech, President Zurabishvili also brought attention to Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations while thanking Romania for its support for Georgia on that path since it recognized the country’s independence. “Romania has been our main partner in Europe, along with Poland, and maybe even closer because of the Black sea [connection],” she emphasized.
The Georgian President noted the “historical step” of Georgia being granted a European perspective and stressed that “Now we must take the necessary steps to work and show our European partners, that we are not only ready for the perspective but for membership.” “This is the true unwavering will of the Georgian people,” she added.
In reference to the European perspective, President Zurabishvili emphasized that it is the result of “Ukraine’s dedicated struggle” and may not have been reached otherwise.
“If we spare no effort, we will be able to get the candidacy status, this is our immediate future,” she reiterated.
Towards the end of her statement, the President also highlighted the importance of the European Political Community Summit held in Prague on 6 October which brought together all countries with a European perspective, including Georgia, which she called a “great achievement for us.”
Finally, taking note of the fact that Romania has played a significant role in both the summit and in partnering with Georgia in this process, President Zurabishvili drew attention to the strategic partnership declaration that she signed with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis today. The agreement pledges to draw the two countries closer together by developing existing areas of bilateral cooperation, including through infrastructural projects aimed at connecting the two countries through the Black Sea, and reiterates Romania’s support for Georgia’s European aspirations.
President Iohannis’ Remarks
Meanwhile, during his speech, President Iohannis emphasized that President Zurabishvili’s visit takes place in a “symbolic context,” marking 30 years since the “re-establishment” of diplomatic relations between Romania and Georgia.
Like President Zurabishvili, he also referenced the joint declaration that the duo signed today while remarking that the agreement marks a “historic moment in our bilateral relations.”
Georgia’s European Aspirations
“Through this Strategic Partnership, our countries aim to improve their connectivity in the fields of transport, energy, but also people-to-people contacts,” President Iohannis explained and underscored that it will lead to the development and deepening of bilateral cooperation on the Euro-Atlantic and European Agenda, as well as under the Eastern Partnership, and the field of security.
The President declared that “Romania will remain one of the strongest supporters of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” and congratulated Georgia for attaining a European perspective.
President Iohannis underlined that EU integration requires “complex structural reforms, and an inclusive political system and continues efforts towards modernization and democratization…”
Regarding reforms, the Romanian President also conveyed a “special message of appreciation for your [President Zurabishvili’s] firm stance on the imperative of continuing reforms.”
“Romania also continues to support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, in line with the decisions of the 2008 Bucharest Summit,” he said. “As a concrete expression of our support, our country will take over the mandate of the NATO Contact Point in Tbilisi from 1 January.”
Black Sea Security
Regarding the Black Sea region, President Iohannis stated that he “agreed” with President Zurabishvili on the fact that “physical interconnections on the Black Sea are essential to strengthen the stability and prosperity of this region, by anchoring it to the European area in a sustainable manner.”
On that note, the Romanian President denoted that Romania is already working with Georgia and other partner states on “major strategic projects.”
President Iohannis revealed that the current priority is to build an electricity cable between Romania, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, within the framework of the ‘Green Electricity Corridor’, connecting the Caspian Sea region with the Black Sea region and the EU.
The President also said that Romania is partnering with Georgia to operationalize the Black Sea-Caspian Sea freight corridor, which he said is a “Romanian initiative that has started to take shape in recent years and is taking on new meaning in the current regional context.”
President Iohannis divulged plans for a regular ferry line between Romania and Georgia as well while emphasizing that the project would encourage trade and improve connectivity between the EU and Georgia.
War in Ukraine
Regarding the war in Ukraine, President Iohannis brought attention to the Russian airstrikes on several Ukrainian cities on 10 October, which was widely condemned by the international community. “Together with our partners, Romania will continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the fight against the aggression of the Russian Federation,” he said.
President Iohannis also remarked that during his meeting with President Zurabishvili he reaffirmed a “strong message of support” for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
He noted that Romania is the second largest contributor of experts to the European Union Civilian Monitoring Mission in Georgia, which plays a key role in monitoring areas affected by conflict as a result of the Russian aggression against Georgia in 2008.
In reference to Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, President Iohannis underscored that the protracted conflicts “are having an extremely damaging impact on regional security and stability, limiting socio-economic development and causing considerable hardship for the populations of the affected regions.”
The Romanian President concluded by stating that Romania “continues to actively support the mobilization of the attention of the European Union and the international community on these conflicts and the identification of sustainable solutions to them while supporting the strengthening of Georgia’s resilience.”
Note: This article was updated on 11 October at 20:41 to reflect President Zurabishvili’s statement.
- 12/10/2022 – President Zurabishvili Meets Romanian Prime Minister