Georgian Prime Minister Visits Vienna

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: July 11, 2022; 10:33 ♦ (Vindobona)

Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili recently met their counterparts Nehammer and Schallenberg in Vienna. The reason for the meeting was the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations, but also current topics such as the conflict in Ukraine or Georgia's accession negotiations with the EU. Read on if you want to learn more!

Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Austria's Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Florian Schrötter

Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili was recently in Vienna for an official visit to Austria's Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer. The reason for his visit was to discuss the war in Ukraine and the frozen conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but also more joyful topics such as the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Federal Chancellor Nehammer emphasised that Austria sees Georgia as an important partner for Europe and that it needs corresponding support: "Georgia is a very important geostrategic partner. I am pleased that our meeting today enabled an intensive exchange on current challenges."

Following the working meeting between the two politicians, Nehammer referred in a press statement to the "special situation" in which Georgia finds itself in view of the occupation of around 20 per cent of its territory by Russian troops. This poses a "constant security challenge", but also enables Georgia to act as a "mediator between conflict parties" and help to better understand the problems in the region.

"From Austria's point of view, it is essential to support Georgia's efforts to move closer to the EU and Western values," said the Federal Chancellor. The process necessary for this at EU level and the rules envisaged were "important and right".

Once again, the Austrian Federal Chancellor reminded his audience that the Western Balkans must not be forgotten in the question of EU enlargement: "It is important for Austria to accompany the region in our immediate neighbourhood in the integration process. Our task, precisely because of our geographical location, is always to be a bridge builder and mediator between different interests."

On the subject of joint trade relations, both statesmen spoke out in favour of more cooperation in the future, as there was "still a lot of potential" upside. Therefore, investments should be made in good cooperation to create the necessary legal certainty for companies in order to promote higher investments by companies.

In the fight against organised crime, too, the existing cooperation is to be further strengthened.

In conclusion, the Federal Chancellor assured Austria's support for Georgia on its way to EU candidate status: "We want to accompany Georgen in its efforts to be able to meet the criteria of the European Commission." The goal of rapprochement, he said, was ultimately "to jointly create an area of stability in a difficult security environment and to promote dialogue in order to be able to ensure more peace in Europe."

Georgia had applied for EU membership in March. Subsequently, the European Commission reaffirmed Georgia's membership perspective in mid-June, but called for additional reforms before candidate status could be granted.

Foreign ministers of both states in talks

Georgia's Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili also accompanied Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and met Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg during the visit. At the working meeting of the two foreign ministers, Georgia's European perspective and the consequences of the Russian war of aggression on the country in the southwest of Russia were discussed.

On the occasion of this year's 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Austria and Georgia, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili also looked back on the good and friendly bilateral relations.

In his talks with the Georgian Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg reiterated the country's European perspective and offered Austria's support in the accession process: "We support Georgia's desire for an EU perspective. Especially in light of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, it is in our strategic interest that Georgia is firmly anchored in the European family. It is also clear that the Georgian government must do its homework. The first steps towards reform are a positive signal, but the road is still long and requires all relevant actors to close ranks nationally. The European Commission's opinion clearly sets out the roadmap, and we are happy to accompany Georgia along the way."

In addition, the impact of the Russian war of aggression was also discussed at the meeting of the two foreign ministers. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg warned of Russia's destabilising potential, which extends far beyond Ukraine's borders from the Western Balkans to the South Caucasus.

Through a war of aggression in 2008, Russia achieved the secession of the two regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. At the meeting, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg emphasised Austria's full support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Federal Chancellery of Austria

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs