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President Zourabichvili and President Macron Hold Joint Press Conference

President Salome Zourabichvili and President Emmanuel Macron held a joint press conference after meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

In her address, President Zourabichvili thanked her colleague for a warm reception, highlighting that her first visit to Paris feels like returning home.

“This is a very symbolic day for me. It is noteworthy that this is my first bilateral visit outside Georgia, after visiting the European institutions in Brussels.

I am not a foreigner here; I was born and raised in Paris where I embraced the French culture. My presence here is important for me and for my local friends too who greeted me and Georgia so kindly and positively. I have become what I dreamed of – a bridge between Georgia and Europe, between Georgia and France.

France is not merely one of the European countries for Georgia. France symbolizes freedom, independence, and sovereignty.

France symbolizes freedom, because, as President Macron said, the French Government accepted the Georgian Government in exile that fled Georgia after the Russian occupation and recognized Georgia’s independence until 1934, longer than other European countries. France has always been a country that protected Georgian emigrants, sparing no effort to make them feel at home. Let me use my personal example. I became the Ambassador of France to Georgia and nobody had ever complained about the fact that I was both French and Georgian.

France is a symbol of sovereignty, because it was a country that showed solidarity in 2008, supported Georgia and took an important part in the conflict resolution. If not France’s help and President Sarközy, we may have been in a different situation. I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. President for sending President Sarközy, as the Government representative, to Georgia to attend my inauguration. The Georgian population greeted him with applause. It was a sign that Georgia is grateful for what France did in 2008.

Having such past, we should further deepen our relations in the future. In this regard, my election is also symbolic. I am certain that by making this choice the Georgian population elected the European President who will be a link between Georgia and Europe before the country reaches a full-fledged membership to Europe and the European Union.

At the meeting, we have discussed all the decisive topics for Georgia, including a security environment in the region. In this regard, France is one of the major partners for Georgia, helping the country to strengthen the airspace safety. In all the areas we need assistance, France is ready to be with us. We are well aware that Georgia is an island of stability in the region where the environment is quite tense. In this respect, we have France's support that will stand by us in Georgia, as well as, in the Black Sea.

France is ready to get involved in the currently developed new projects that are crucial for Georgia to feel more proximity with the European Union and our European partners that are on the other side of the Black Sea, Romania and Bulgaria, and Europeans also to feel that Georgia is much closer to Europe. It is crucial to feel that we are parts of one family.

I would like to put emphasis on the declaration of cooperation on establishing the Dimitri Amilakhvari Georgian-French high level political dialogue that has been signed today. This is also very symbolic. Dimitri Amilakhvari played a key role in the lives of the Georgian emigrants who all remember his poem about dying from two bullets, one bullet for Georgia and one for France. It is crucial that this new agreement between Georgia and France is named in his honor. This agreement enables us to further strengthen our cooperation in economy, culture, security, and education.

Cybersecurity was one of the major topics raised at the meeting. I would like to thank Mr. President for positively responding to all the proposals and topics that we discussed, including the topic that I find one of the most important – cultural cooperation. Georgia should join Europe as a part of the European culture.

We also talked about Georgia’s occupied territories, and the non-recognition policy. France is ready to actively support Georgia with its partners. France’s role in the EU Monitoring Mission and readiness to always stand by Georgia, especially in fight against the painful problem of occupation, are crucial. We also discussed military cooperation and economy.

In the end, I would like to invite Mr. President to Georgia. I hope that this will happen in 2019 and when the President and his wife visit Georgia, we will introduce them with the Georgian culture.

I hope that the President will visit Georgia along with his economic delegation. We will fully demonstrate Georgia’s economic potential in order to further advance and develop our economic ties.

I have an ambition France to be not only the closest friend, but also the crucial economic partner of Georgia.
Thank you once again, Mr. President, for such a reception that felt like returning home,” President Zourabichvili said.

In his address, President Macron thanked his colleague for paying her first visit to France.

"I would like you to know that France will always stand by Georgia, as before and as in 2008. France continues to support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders. The Engagement policy towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia is crucial. We support its successful implementation.

We also discussed a security situation in the Caucasus region and the Black Sea, including the regional challenges. We talked about prospects for strengthening economic ties. President Zourabichvili has invited me to Georgia and I will be glad to visit Georgia. Mrs. President, you only have friends here in France,” President Macron said.
 
 

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