German, French officials pledge dialogue with Russia on Ukraine crisis

(From left) Georgia’s PM, German, French and Georgian foreign ministers in Tbilisi on April 24, 2014., 24 Apr 2014 - 13:45, Tbilisi,Georgia

The German and French Foreign Ministers have expressed their deep concern about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and vowed peaceful dialogue was one of the most important ways to deescalate the situation in Georgia’s neighbouring country.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier were in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on the first leg of a trip aimed to reinvigorate foreign policy ties between Tbilisi, Berlin and Paris.

After meeting Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, the Georgian, French and German Ministers held a joint press conference where Germany’s Steinmeier said the Ukraine crisis was one of the main issues discussed as it strongly influenced Georgia.

"We believe there is a particular concern regarding the situation in Ukraine and observing and analyzing the developments in parallel to Georgia,” Steinmeier said.

"Every day when real steps are not being taken for deescalating the situation in Ukraine it distances us from the outcome of Geneva talks. It will have an impact on Georgia as well because on the whole we should take care not to create a confrontation … with Russia.”

Steinmeier again pledged dialogue with Russia was a way to resolve the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Meanwhile Georgia is set to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) at the end of June. Steinmeier gave his assurances to Russia that this agreement was not "directed against anyone” and would not have any impact on Georgia-Russia relation.

"We are not eager to contradict Russia as we would like to cooperate with them and we will always say to Russia that the Association Agreement is not directed against anyone and it was the free choice of Georgia.”

Fabius, the French representative, also believed the EU’s choice in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine was dialogue and to express firmness in its response.

"In case Russia implements new actions in Ukraine, the EU will move to the next level of sanctions against Russia,” Fabius said.

The French diplomat said Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s territory was condemned by the EU.

The French and German Foreign Ministers visited Tbilisi as part of their joint three-nation trip to Moldova, Georgia and Tunisia. Georgia was the second stop on their journey. The officials and have left the country for a two-day visit to Tunisia.