Estonia pledges to help Georgia achieve EU visa-free travel

Official welcoming ceremony of the Estonian Prime Minister (left) to Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo by PM's press office., 12 Jan 2015 - 19:35, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Prime Minister of Estonia is pledging to support Georgia as it strives to get the green light to progress its plans for visa free travel with the European Union (EU) at the upcoming Riga Summit in May.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas spoke at a joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Tbilisi today and said there might not be "100 percent guarantees” but Estonia was a supporter of Georgia, as the country had perfectly met all the criteria needed for visa free travel.

"Establishing visa free travel is actually possible and believe me you will have Estonia’s support with that,” the Estonian official said.

Roivas started his two-day Georgia visit earlier today. He was welcomed at Tbilisi International Airport by Georgia’s Economy Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

The Georgian (left) and Estonian Prime Ministers at the official welcoming ceremony. Photo by Georgian PM's press office.

The Estonian PM, who is the youngest European leader, held his first meeting in Tbilisi with his Georgian counterpart this morning.

Deepening economic cooperation between Georgia and Estonia, Georgia’s EU integration and relations with NATO were the main topics discussed by the pair.

"The Georgians and the Estonians are good friends,” Roivas said at the press conference following the meeting.

"We showed very good results even when shooting a film together,” he added, referring to the Estonian-Georgian co-production Tangerines (Mandarinebi), which has won many prestigious international awards.

The Estonian PM said his country was ready to share its experiences in different directions with Georgia, including NATO-membership and EU-integration.

Roivas also highlighted Estonia’s support towards Georgia’s sovereignty and stressed Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia), two areas currently occupied by Russia, were integral parts of Georgia.

Georgia-Russia relations 

Georgia-Russia relations was high on the agenda of today's meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

Garibashvili said economic and trade relations had recently improved with Russia but the political situation remained the same.

"Two years ago when we came to power we supported the dialogue format with Russia and appointed a special representative for relations. The Russian side gradually opened the market and, of course, trade and economic relations have improved but the political climate has not changed,” he said.

"Russia continues to occupy our territories. Despite our constructive steps, Russia has not answered us with the same spirit and the treaty with Abkhazia is a clear example of this. The same document is being prepared to be signed with Tskhinvali as well. Of course, we are concerned by this.”

The Georgian PM also stressed that the situation was not easy but the Georgian side was maintaining constructive relations in all directions with Russia.

Furthermore, Garibashvili noted that Georgia’s European choice was in the best interests of everyone and not a challenge to any country, including Russia.

"Our European path is not directed against Russia. This is a sovereign choice of the Georgian people and state. The Georgian people should decide in what direction we should move,” he said.

The Georgian PM also underlined that Georgia would not make any compromise in exchange for its territorial integrity.

Meanwhile before the Estonian PM leaves the country tomorrow, he is expected to meet Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili.