Karl Nehammer, the Austrian Chancellor on a visit to Georgia, on Monday said he was “very happy” Tbilisi had joined “all financial sanctions” imposed on Russia by the European Union for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, despite the presence of Russian occupation troops on Georgian territory.
Speaking at a joint press briefing with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, the Austrian official stressed the move by the Georgian Government was “worth of mention” amid Russia’s ongoing occupation of 20 percent of the country’s territory, with Russian troops stationed in central and north-western parts of Georgia.
This [the presence of Russian troops] automatically brings the reality that the policy implemented by Georgia must be expressed in a different reality. That is why I can say that I am very glad that Georgia supported all the financial sanctions imposed by the EU. It is really not easy, because the pressure on Georgia is very strong”, Nehammer said.
The Chancellor also pointed out the influx of Russian nationals to Georgia following the former’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and after the subsequent military mobilisation in September, had also been “challenging”, and praised the Georgian Government for walking “in the right direction”.
Honored to host first ever official visit of Austrian Federal Chancellor in ????????. This historic visit of @karlnehammer reconfirms ???????????????? dynamic co-op & ????????'s firm support to ????????’s integration w/????????. Along w/other matters discussed prospects of deepening trade & econ ties. pic.twitter.com/i2eL1KV15d— Irakli Garibashvili (@GharibashviliGe) January 30, 2023
Pledging his support for the country’s European integration, Nehammer said it was "not an easy path” considering “a number of challenges”, but stressed it was “worth strengthening of efforts, making more investments, as this process will bring a lot of changes from the internal political point of view, including for the citizens of Georgia”.
He also emphasised all candidate countries for EU membership “must have the same starting conditions”, and that there “should not be any shortcut way to achieve the goal".
Niehammer said Austria, “like the EU as a whole, absolutely supports” the territorial integrity of Georgia, and “this is at the centre of our political activity when we act in relation to Georgia”.
It is very important in politics to have rational assessments. Politics is the art of opportunity. We should move in the corridor of these possibilities, and the Georgian Government is doing this. I know it is very difficult, it is more than difficult”, he noted.
In other comments, the Chancellor highlighted his Government had supported the presence of the EU Monitoring mission in Georgia - the only foreign mission in the country observing developments adjacent to the Russian-occupied regions - with seven of the country's representatives serving in its roster.