14 May 2014 - 00:31
It was a whirlwind trip that saw the President of France spend only seven hours in Georgia, but the French leader made the most of his short time in Tbilisi and attended high level meetings with the country’s President and Prime Minister.
While evaluating his fleeting visit, French President Francois Hollande said his visit to Georgia had one purpose – to express France's support to Georgia, support its sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as offering support as Georgia prepared to sign the Association Agreement with the EU.
At a joint press conference held with President Giorgi Margvelashvili, the French leader spoke about importance for Georgia to sign the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU and the partnership between France and Georgia. The French leader also mentioned the Georgia-Russia war in 2008 and stressed that Russia had not fulfilled the cease-fire agreement.
President Hollande said by signing the AA Georgia would receive not only technical and financial support from Europe, but have the possibility of entering European markets.
"Also, Europeans and among them France, will have a possibility to enter Georgia and the region in general since Georgia is open to its neighbours. For example to Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The country has also preferred relations with Turkey," Hollande stated.
He discussed the Black Sea connection project and said Georgia could be a significant part of it.
"I would call it the Black Sea project because of the Caspian, Black and Mediterranean Seas - and the union of these three seas is a really good project that deserves continuance.
"Realization of this project will give us the possibility to connect the regions that are not connected at all by now. This connection will allow us to recover historical relations what will be not only economic, but also energetic," Hollande suggested at the press conference.
While speaking about the 2008 Georgia-Russia war, the French President said the cease-fire agreement signed on August 12, 2008, with mediation of France and namely Hollande's predecessor Nicola Sarkozy, was not fully executed.
"France did everything for the agreement to be reached and the conflict to stop. However we see today that occupation still exists and Georgia still has to regain territorial integrity," Hollande said. He added this problem was also existing elsewhere in the international society.
Meanwhile, President Margvelashvili expressed gratitude towards his colleague for offering unwavering support to the most important issues for the country such as territorial integrity and the non-recognition policy.
The joint press conference held by Presidents Margvelashvili and Hollande was followed by an official dinner in honour of the French leader, which was held at the Margvelashvili’s Presidential Palace.
The dinner was attended by representatives of the Georgian Government, Parliament, the French delegation and French people living in Georgia.