On 20 October, Ilia Darchiashvili, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented his first report to the Parliament in the format of the Ministerial Hour and answered deputies’ questions. During the one-hour report, the Foreign Minister reviewed the activities performed by the Ministry in 2022 and discussed future plans.
Foreign Minister’s Report
Minister Darchiashvili opened by stressing that the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia “has put not only the issue of global security but also the existence of the global order in front of great challenges.”
He continued, that nonetheless, “Georgia successfully manages to deal with foreign political threats and continues to implement its main foreign policy priorities, which is the historical and civilizational choice of the Georgian people.”
FM Darchiashvili stated that his agency continued the policy of strengthening the country’s sovereignty and territorial integration, pursuing de-occupation, and aimed at resolving the Russian-Georgian conflict peacefully, while it “spared no effort” to keep the issue of the issue of the occupied regions on the international agenda.
He also emphasized the importance of mobilizing international support in de-occupying the country and peacefully settling the conflicts and pointed to the Geneva International Discussions (GID) as one of the venues for pursuing this objective.
- 06/10/2022 – 56th Round of Geneva International Discussions
In that context, the Minister noted that the government’s goal from these negotiations is “to obtain tangible results and strengthen the process,” which, according to him, will ensure the implementation of the August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and the start of the process for the “dignified return” of internally displaced persons to their homes.
“[This] implies the withdrawal of Russian armed forces from Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region and the deployment of international security and human rights protection mechanisms on the ground,” Minister Darchiashvili said, adding that Tbilisi will continue to offer the benefits of progress made on the European and Euro-Atlantic path to those left behind the occupation line.
Speaking about the country’s integration into the European Union, the Foreign Minister stressed that the country is continuing its “consistent path” in this direction and is “taking steps to achieve maximum harmonization with EU legislation and a high level of institutional integration.”
In this context, he underlined Georgia’s decision to officially file for EU membership past May, with which “[the country’s] authorities fulfilled the order of the Georgian people and opened up a real prospect of joining the European Union.”
While on the subject, Minister Darchiashvili also drew attention to the EU’s “historic decision” to grant European Perspective to Georgia and underscored that it “formally opened the door to Georgia’s accession to the European Union and took our relations to a completely new stage.” “We will continue to work to make Georgia a beneficiary of the pre-accession instrument as soon as possible,” he added.
On that note, he mentioned Georgia Dream’s action plan for fulfilling the European Commission’s 12 recommendations and said that it “unequivocally confirmed the unwavering will that Georgia would continue to actively work on all the obligations that serve the goal of our country joining the European Union.” The Foreign Minister further emphasized the importance of Western partners’ support for Georgia’s European future.
Speaking about the partnership between Georgia and NATO, Minister Darchiashvili explained that the cooperation with the Alliance was developing dynamically and that “Georgia was effectively using all available tools in the direction of NATO integration.”
In this context, the Foreign Minister recalled his, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s, and Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili’s visit to Brussels, as well as visits to Georgia by key NATO figures.
“It is essential for Georgia to be fully represented at the 2023 NATO Summit, which will be an important message for both the Georgian population and the international community,” Minister Darchiashvili emphasized.
Speaking about Georgia’s main strategic partner, the U.S., Minister Darchiashvili stressed that “Georgia plays an increasingly important role in the formation of the U.S.’ European security architecture.’ As proof of this, the Foreign Minister highlighted the “unequivocal support for Georgia’s European integration in the new U.S. National Security Strategy.”
According to the Foreign Minister, Georgia remains a strong and reliable ally of the U.S. “The political, practical, and financial assistance that the United States of America provides to Georgia, including defense and security, trade and investments, as well as other key areas, is visible and clear,” he said.
He also added that “our goal is to further deepen the strategic partnership between Georgia and the United States in all priority areas provided by the Charter of Strategic Partnership.”
Support for Ukraine
Speaking about the ongoing war in Ukraine, Minister Darchiashvili said that “since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale military aggression, Georgia has continued to firmly support Ukraine in both political and diplomatic, as well as humanitarian, directions.”
According to his explanation, “Solidarity with Ukraine is expressed not only by practical support in a bilateral format, but also by Georgia’s firm position, be it in the co-authorship or co-sponsorship of resolutions, or joining statements within the framework of all international platforms.”
The Foreign Minister also mentioned various social programs launched by the government to support the more than 28,000 Ukrainians living in Georgia and said that Ukrainian-speaking sectors were also launched in Georgian schools for students displaced from Ukraine.
Peaceful Neighborhood Policy
Minister Darchiashvili also underscored the importance of developing peaceful and good-neighborly relations for maintaining stability in the region and noted that the Georgia government is working “intensely” in this direction.
In that context, he drew attention to the “Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative” of Georgia, within the framework of which, Tbilisi hosted a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“We believe that this initiative and its implementation are important for the region, and the involvement of our Western partners should play a positive role in its success. The practical aspects of the implementation of this idea will be discussed at high-level meetings,” Minister Darchiashvili remarked.
Answers to Deputies’ Questions
Following the presentation of his report, Foreign Minister Darchiashvili answered deputies’ questions. In response to opposition deputies’ questions about the Foreign Ministry’s response to Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenka’s visit to occupied Abkhazia, FM Darchiashvili said that authorities had “very specific, consistent steps that we took.”
“First, we made a specific statement at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There was a response from the Prime Minister of Georgia, there was also my [response]. We summoned the Ambassador of Belarus to Georgia for an explanation and took all the diplomatic steps that the country should take at such a time,” he added.
- 29/09/2022 – Outrage at Lukashenka’s Visit to Abkhazia
The Foreign Minister also expressed the hope that “Belarus will firmly return to the position it had in relation to Georgia, in the direction of protecting Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” “I think and I am very optimistic that similar manifestations that harm our country will not happen in the future,” he said.
Responding to United National Movement (UNM) Roman Gotsiridze’s question about steps taken by the Ministry in relation to the David Gareji Monastery Complex after two employees of the same agency were arrested two years ago for the attempted transfer of Georgia’s territories to Azerbaijan, FM Darchiashvili said that relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan have a dynamic relationship and “we highly appreciate all the steps that the two countries take towards each other.”
“As for the Gareji issue […] there is a specific commission within which this issue should be resolved, and we will continue communication and consultation with out Azerbaijani partners in this direction,” he emphasized.
Asked by several opposition MPs for his assessment of Georgian Dream MPs’ recent refusal to vote on the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE),which declared Russia a terrorist state, FM Darchiashvili retorted, “We are doing everything, in general, to ensure that any resolution connected with Ukraine will be done together with our partners, and we will take concrete steps in this direction in the future as well.”
“I want to tell you that this is a free country, every politician, every person has the opportunity to ask a question and get an answer to that question. This is the position that I share with you from my point of view,” Foreign Minister Darchiashvili stated in relation to the anti-Western statements made by the Georgian Dream departees who founded People Power.