Chancellor visits South Caucasus
Closer cooperation with Georgia
"Through the EU, we are heading towards more intensive cooperation with Georgia," declared Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tbilisi, the first stop on her visit to the South Caucasus region. The country is already a very close partner, she said. On Friday and Saturday, she is to visit Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, three of the states covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, have been part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership since 2008/2009. Georgia has signed an Association Agreement with the EU. The German government is interested in seeing the region develop positively and is working for democracy and the rule of law in these states. Chancellor Angela Merkel is on a three-day visit to the South Caucasus.
Territorial conflict over Abkhazia and South Ossetia
At the start of her visit to Tbilisi, the Chancellor stressed that she is an advocate of the territorial integrity of Georgia. The German government continues to support efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "Germany will endeavour to do whatever we can to resolve these conflicts, also with a view to the people they affect," said Angela Merkel. The injustice will not be forgotten and Germany will help ensure that "the issues continue to be put on the agenda". The platform for this is provided by the Geneva International Discussions co-chaired by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Agreements worth 193 million euros
At a press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Angela Merkel also pointed out that two financial cooperation agreements are to be signed, worth a total of 193 million euros. This sum will be used to build a gas storage facility and to help upgrade drinking water supply and sanitation systems, among other projects. "There is a good reason why I am accompanied by a delegation of private business representatives," said the Chancellor. Several offers have been made by medium-sized and larger companies that are ready to invest in education, training and specifically dual training in Georgia.
Visit to Armenia
The next stop on the Chancellor’s itinerary was Armenia, which she visited on Friday. Armenia and Azerbaijan have for decades been locked in a conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the USA, is the international platform for discussions aiming to identify possible solutions.
With its EU partners, Germany supports the negotiations of the OSCE-led Minsk Group and the engagement of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus. It is encouraging Azerbaijan and Armenia to find a peaceful solution to this conflict that is acceptable to both sides.
Winding up the trip in Azerbaijan
On Saturday, Chancellor flew on to Azerbaijan. Her talks with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku focused on bilateral relations and economic matters. The constitutional order of the country and legal certainty were other matters on the agenda.