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PM Ivanishvili participates at Riga Conference

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, September 9
Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili paid a two-day official visit to Latvia and participated in an annual high-level foreign and security policy forum – the Riga Conference 2013. The event brought together more than 300 participants from thirty countries.

The PM started his visit with meetings with Andris Berzins, President of Latvia, and Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis.

"Indeed we traditionally had and have very close and friendly relations with Georgia and today we discussed our cooperation and the ways of working further in terms of our bilateral relations," Latvian PM Dombrovskis said at the joint press-conference held after his meeting with Ivanishvili. Speaking of future relations with Georgia, Dombrovskis emphasized the great potential the two countries have in trading and economic relationships.

PM Ivanishvili said at the press conference that he introduced his counterpart to the latest political situation in Georgia, as well as with the foreign priorities the country has defined. Just like the Latvian PM, Ivanishvili also focused his attention on the potential the two countries have in their economic relations. The Georgian PM also thanked Dombrovskis and the Latvian people for being supportive of Georgia, its European values and the territorial integrity.

The Georgian PM was presented as one of the speakers at the Riga Conference, together with Estonian President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Croatian Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, British Secretary of State for Defense, Philip Hammond and other high-ranking officials from Europe.

In his conference speech, Ivanishvili focused his attention on the reforms his government has carried out, the foreign priorities of the country and security issues in Georgia and in the whole region of the Caucasus.

“My government had strictly defined priorities from the very first day in office and made the state budget socially oriented,” Ivanishvili declared. He also added that the government worked hard to assess and define the strongest aspects of the country's economy, so the investments could have been assigned to the fields with the biggest potential. “The government is working with private investors in order to create a $5 billion private investment fund,” the PM said. The fund is planned to help start up new private industries.

The PM also spoke about the political situation in Georgia and said that there are certain difficulties existing in terms of cooperation between the president and the government, but the PM hopes the tension will decrease for the benefit of the country.

Ivanishvili also mentioned the success Georgia had recently in economic relations with Russia. “We continue our pragmatic policy,” the PM stated, adding that Georgia is even ready to cooperate with Russia in security issues during the Sochi Olympic Games.

Speaking about Georgia’s foreign policy priorities, Ivanishvili mentioned that the country will even intensify its diplomatic relations with the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and of course with the European Union.

“We all are part of one common trans-Atlantic political space, and it is our duty to actively contribute to strengthening its security,” Ivansihvili stated at the end of his speech.

Ivanishvili discussed the restoration of the OSCE full-scale mission in Georgia at a meeting with Secretary General of the OSCE, Lamberto Zannier. The two also agreed that there is a need to strengthen work in the field of the protection of human rights in Georgia's occupied territories, as well as to continue cooperation within the Geneva talks.

The Georgian delegation to Riga included the PM, Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Alexi Petriashvili, Economy Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, head of the National Investment Agency, Giorgi Pertaia, as well as the Secretary of the Georgian National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, who participated in the conference.