Georgia on Latvia's mind

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Bilateral relations with Georgia were high up the agenda in Latvia March 28 for a number of reasons.

The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs congratulated the Caucasian country on the introduction of a visa-free regime between it and the Schengen Area of the European Union.

"The Ministry believes that visa-free travel will have a positive impact on the bilateral relations between Latvia and Georgia and promote people-to-people contacts. At the same time, the introduction of the visa-free regime is proof to the capacity of Georgia’s government to implement reforms," said the ministry.

From 28 March 2017, Georgian citizens holding biometric passports can enjoy short-stay visa free travel to the Schengen Zone for a period of 90 days within any 180-day period.

The good news came a day after the ministry expressed concern about developments in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are de facto occupied by Russia.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs voices its concern over the developments in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and reiterates its firm support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," the ministry said.

"The closing of crossing points along Georgia’s administrative boundary line with the region of Abkhazia is a measure taken by the illegitimate regime of Abkhazia which runs counter to the endeavours of improving security and living conditions for the conflict-affected population.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not recognise the so-called parliamentary elections held illegally in the Abkhazian region of Georgia in March 2017 and the upcoming presidential elections and a referendum in Georgia’s region of South Ossetia in April 2017. Such activities by Georgia’s separatist regimes are not conducive to a peaceful settlement of the conflict," it said in a statement.

Meanwhile Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis continues his official visit to Georgia which is lasting March 27-30.

"Georgia is one of the closest NATO and European Union partners, and Latvia fully supports Georgia's further Euro-Atlantic integration," Vejonis said during a meeting with his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Margvelashvili.

"This attests to the friendship and close cooperation between our countries," said Vējonis.
"Latvia is ready to continue to share with Georgia its experience of reform. This is a tough day's work, which isn't always popular, but fundamental changes are needed," said Vējonis, noting the need to continue close cooperation in the EU's Eastern Partnership program. 
During the visit on Tuesday a protocol was signed between the Latvian and Georgian Ministries of Interior for the expansion of mutual cooperation, while the Latvian Investment and Development Agency and the Georgian Business Development Agency also inked a Memorandum of Understanding to foster closer cooperation by organizing joint entrepreneurship incentives. 
During the visit, the President will also visit the European Union's observation mission in Georgia and will examine the Georgian and South Ossetian administrative boundary line.


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