Austrian President Admires Georgia
Austrian President Heinz Fischer arrived in Georgia on 18 May for an official visit hosted by the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili.
During the visit, the parties discussed different issues ranging from Georgia’s Association Agreement with the EU to Europe’s security climate. “The Association Agreement is by no means an anti-agreement against any other state,” the Austrian President emphasized.
“I have to sincerely say that our economic cooperation started at a very low level, but we have seriously developed those relations. The Georgian President has already talked about the Association Agreement. We encourage it. Our position is clear - that these kinds of agreements bring states together, including their economies, and are not directed against any third country,” Fischer maintained.
Fischer said he was looking forward to Austria becoming the OSCE chair country in 2017. “This organization has a great responsibility to maintain peace and it will do its best to ensure peace, including bilateral cooperation with Georgia,” said the Austrian President.
The visiting president was also asked about violent developments in Ukraine. “We are concerned about this issue and feel that the political climate of Europe was damaged by these processes. Our interest is to affect both sides and to help implementation of the Minsk Agreement. The impacts on the political climate in Europe are very high. The damage is great, and all this makes us strengthen our efforts to overcome or at least partly solve this problem,” the visiting president underlined.
The visit also focused on Georgia’s expectations for the upcoming Riga Summit and Georgia-Russian relations, including the relations between the two churches. At the Austrian President’s meeting with the Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II, the head of the Georgian Church declared that the issue of relationships between the Georgian and Russian churches is of a complicated nature.
When asked by the Austrian President about the Georgian government’s European choice and the relationship between Tbilisi and Moscow, Ilia II replied: “Georgia has chosen the European path. Georgia wants to become a member, a part of European democratic structures. Our choice is very firm and we will achieve this.”
The Austrian President also revealed that Georgia had left a great impression on him: “We prepared for the visit by studying information on the problems and troubles Georgia has faced. We are familiar with the recent history as well. We have studied your personal history and your contribution to building the Georgian state in detail.”
“Georgia has chosen its complicated way of freedom, sovereignty and European and NATO integration, a process where international support is of vital importance. During the last decade of successful reforms in diverse spheres, Georgia has introduced itself to the entire world and become one of the EU and NATO aspirant countries in the region of Eastern Europe,” added Fischer.