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Georgian, Estonian Presidents visit occupation line at breakaway Tskhinvali

By Tea Mariamidze and Mariam Chanishvili
Friday, November 3
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and his Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid visited the occupation line by the village of Khurvaleti on Thursday.

The occupation line separates Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) from the rest of the country, after the Russian Federation occupied 20% of Georgia’s territories after the Georgia-Russian 2008 August war.

Margvelashvili informed his counterpart on recent developments in the occupied territories of Georgia and highlighted cases of human rights violations and the kidnapping of Georgian citizens living close to the barbed wire fences.

“Today we live in this environment; we are building European Georgia in this environment; but these dreadful barriers will be demolished to the ground, like other artificial barriers have been destroyed in Europe,” Georgian president said.

President Kaljulaid described the barbed wire fences as an “evil line” and presented a book written by the European Union Monitoring Mission about the lives of people living in the occupation line to President Margvelashvili.

“The restoration of Georgian territorial integrity is important…we believe that more attention should be paid to this conflict; and of course we will continue making these points as strong as we can,” she stated.

Prior to visiting the occupation line, Kaljulaid visited the Tserovani settlement, where people internally displaced following the occupation have resided since 2008.

The Estonian President arrived in Georgia on October 31 and had a face-to-face meeting with Margvelashvili. At the joint press conference she underlined that in terms of reforms, Georgia is the leader of the Eastern Partnership.

Kaljulaid said Georgia confirms that the Eastern Partnership is very valuable for the European Union. She added that Estonia supports Georgia’s European aspirations and its membership in NATO. Georgia and Estonia highlighted the significance of the Black Sea region in terms of Euro-Atlantic security. Estonian President highlighted the importance of Georgia's active involvement in terms of strengthening security in the Black Sea region.

The presidents also signed a joint declaration devoted to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Georgia-Estonian diplomatic relations. The Presidents have confirmed they will promote further development of bilateral relations in all areas, especially economy, trade and investment.

President Margvelashvili stated that Estonia is “a very serious supporter of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration.” The Georgian President invited his Estonian counterpart to celebrate the Independence Day of Georgia on May 26, 2018.

Later, Kaljulaid had a meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Political, economic and trade relations between Georgia and Estonia were discussed.

Moreover, Kvirikashvili and Kaljulaid opened a new Golf Complex in Tbilisi on November 1. The premium class golf club Tbilisi Hills' was created from USD 20 million investment from Estonian companies Skinest Rail, Kaamos Group and Go Group.

The same day, Estonian President met with Speaker of Parliament of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhidze. She pledged to continue providing Georgia with active diplomatic support in international formats, while Kobakhidze stressed the importance of Georgia’s close cooperation with Estonia.

President Kalijulaid also met the Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II and congratulated him on the 40th anniversary of his election at the meeting as well as on her social network - twitter.

The Estonian Delegation accompanying President Kalijulaid included Minister of Economy and Infrastructure Kadri Simson, Minister of Culture Indrek Saar, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs Marko Mihkelson, member of the Committee of European Affairs Kalle Palling, Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Riho Terras, and Rector of University of Tartu Volli Kalm.

Furthermore, a Georgian-Estonian Business Forum was held in Tbilisi within the frames of the visit of Estonian President. Representatives of around 34 Estonian companies attended the forum, representing logistics, transport, construction, financial and other sectors.

Diplomatic Relations between Estonia and Georgia were established on 16 June 1992.

Since then, the two countries have implemented many joint projects. Among them are: training Georgian national officials in the Estonian School of Diplomacy, supporting IDPs of Georgia in the villages of Shida Kartli and Mtskheta-Mtianeti, organizing seminars on European Eastern Partnership and developing EU - Georgia Mobility Partnership Project, training Georgian police and law enforcement officers in the Public Service of Estonia, consulting Georgia's National Public TV-Radio company, GTVR .