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10/15/2021 | Press release | Archived content

Statement by President Zourabichvili at Press Conference with President Parmelin of Switzerland

15.10.2021

Statement by President Zourabichvili at Press Conference with President Parmelin of Switzerland

Thank you, Mr. President, for your invitation. I am pleased and very honored to be the first President of Georgia to pay an official visit to Switzerland.

Both this and the next year are very important for our bilateral relations as you mentioned, as 30 years have passed since the establishment of our diplomatic relations, 25 years since the opening of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Georgia, 20 years since the opening of the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia, and so on.

I believe our relationship is at a stage of new deepening.

I want, Mr. President, to thank first and foremost Switzerland for the solidarity it has expressed toward Georgia. This is a solidarity between two small countries, which is firstly reflected in Switzerland's continued support for Georgia's territorial integrity. This is very important for us because, as you know, we are in a much more difficult region than Switzerland is and for us, this support is not only symbolic, but practical.

I want to express our gratitude for the role that Switzerland has been playing since 2009, since after the Russian-Georgian conflict and after the occupation of our regions. Switzerland has been a mediator between our side and Russia and plays this same role in Moscow.

The role of the President himself was also very important when, after he had the opportunity to speak with the highest level of the Russian leadership, Zaza Gakheladze was freed.

We talked about the current situation in the occupied territories of Georgia. We discussed that while one of the hostages has been freed, three remain illegally detained beyond the occupation line. This is a very difficult humanitarian situation for our people, regardless of which side of the line they live. The humanitarian situation has been made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, with crossing point closures and the prevention of medical access to our own citizens.

I also stressed the conditions of our citizens who aren't allowed to receive education in Georgian in the occupied territories.

The almost-daily militarization we see in both occupied territories is very problematic for us and the region as a whole. Unfortunately, the Geneva International Discussions, [a round of which] just ended see no improvement in the situation, nor do we see future decisions resolving the very difficult conditions on the ground.

We also talked about the situation in the region since conflict broke between our two neighbors a few months ago, as well as the successful role of Georgia in mediation at this stage, something that will continue. I know that Switzerland is involved too. Its peacemaking role is reflected here as well and it's clear to everyone that stability is needed in the region to implement future projects that will contribute to regional development.

The main topic of our conversation was our bilateral cooperation, our economic relations, which have a lot of potential because our two countries have a lot in common.

The experience that Switzerland has is very important for us, be it in tourism, energy, ecology, agriculture, mining, sports, and, of course as a field that is crucial for Georgia's own development, vocational education. Also included are technology, innovation and everything that makes it easier for small countries to compete and see their economies develop.

I would like to thank you once again for this reception, for our conversation that I hope will continue when you visit Georgia and for your willingness to deepen relations between our countries.