"Georgia is a friend and a good partner", says German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili meet in Berlin, Germany on June 15, 2016. Photo by the PM's press office
Agenda.ge, Jun 17, 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Georgia is "a friend and a good partner” of Germany.

An article released on Wednesday, June 15 by the Federal Government of Germany stated "Germany and Georgia intend to further develop economic contacts” and Merkel would also like to see the "rapid introduction of visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens”.

Merkel met Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in Berlin yesterday to discuss bilateral relations and Georgia’s bid for EU visa liberalisation. After the meeting Merkel stressed how intensive relations between the two countries are, and how these bilateral relations would enhance in the future.

Chancellor Merkel praised the most recent economic reforms and the liberalisation of Georgia’s economy.

"This is an excellent basis for stepping up economic contacts with German companies. In the construction sector we already have very close contacts, but we can put our economic relations on a broader footing," she said.

The article notes Germany is currently Georgia’s sixth-largest trading partner. In 2015, trade between Germany and Georgia was worth €454 million. Georgia mainly imports cars and car parts, machinery, chemical products, electrical goods and food from Germany, while its main exports to Germany are food and textiles.

Cooperation within an international framework

About Georgia’s Association Agreement (AA) with the EU, Chancellor Merkel confirmed the deal had helped increase economic contacts between Georgia and EU member states. In parallel to this, it was encouraging Georgia has adopted a pragmatic attitude in its relations to Russia.

"We continue to support the territorial integrity of Georgia. This includes the South Ossetia and Abkhazia questions,” Merkel confirmed.

Expanding on this Kvirikashvili said Georgia and Germany stood side-by-side fighting for stability in the region. "Georgia may be a small country, but we stand proudly beside the European Union and NATO in the fight against terrorism and numerous other operations."

Implementing visa liberalisation rapidly

Merkel confirmed Germany supported Georgia’s bid for visa liberalisation to the EU, as the European Commission noted Georgia had met all the preconditions, and it was now a question of deciding when visa liberalisation for Georgia will be introduced.

"I have pointed out that this matter must be seen in conjunction with the so-called 'snap-back mechanism' which makes it possible to respond more swiftly should serious difficulties arise. This would, for instance, be the case if a large number of citizens of a country enjoying visa-free travel to the EU were to apply for asylum in Germany,” said Merkel.

"The European Parliament is due to decide on the snap-back mechanism soon. I am confident that we will be voting in the very near future on visa liberalisation for citizens of Georgia," she said.

Stepping up bilateral cooperation

2017 will be the German-Georgian Friendship Year and in 2018 Georgia will be the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

With respect to stepping up cooperation in the field of technical and vocational education and training, PM Kvirikashvili said: "We see Germany as a trailblazer here. That is why the ministries of education of our two countries will be signing a memorandum this very day that will help Georgia implement reforms.”

Read the full article here: www.bundesregierung.de