Tbilisi, November 7 (MTI) – Hungary will propose developing a specific programme tailored to Georgia’s needs within the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks in Tbilisi on Friday.
During his visit, Szijjarto held talks with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, First Deputy State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration David Dondua, First Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tamar Beruchashvili and Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili.
Szijjarto also met President Giorgi Margvelashvili.
The minister told MTI over the phone that he had arrived in Georgia’s capital to make it clear that both the EU and Hungary have a vested interest in stability in the Caucasus region. To this effect, the prospect of EU accession should be left open to the region’s countries, he said.
Before the year goes out, Hungary will ratify the EU-Georgia association agreement signed on June 27. Further, it supports that the European Union should conclude a no-visa agreement with Georgia during its next summit meeting with the Eastern Partnership countries, Szijjarto said.
He said close cooperation with the countries involved in the Eastern Partnership could give new impetus to the European Union and help it overcome the current challenges.
The Eastern Partnership programme was initiated by Poland and Sweden in 2008 to help progress to democracy in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
Szijjarto has assured the Georgian government’s representatives that Hungary was supporting the country’s aspirations for NATO membership. He added that Hungary would participate in a management team set up to reinforce cooperation between Georgia and NATO.
Commenting on economic relations, the minister said Hungarian trade to Georgia increased by 8.7 percent last year to 50 million dollars but the Hungarian government is not yet satisfied with this. The government plans to promote Hungarian-Georgian economic cooperation and the development of ties between companies in the two countries with the help of a 400 million dollar credit line established with Eximbank, he added. Georgia’s energy sector has demonstrated its preparedness to involve Hungarian firms in large-scale energy development projects, including the construction of electric power lines and hydroelectric plants. Georgia is also important to Hungary because it is a major transit country for gas supplies to Europe, he said.
A joint Georgian-Hungarian working team has been set up to promote the development of agricultural exports from Hungary to Georgia, he said. This could compensate to a certain extent for the loss in exports to Russia caused by the embargo introduced by Moscow in response to EU sanctions, he added.
Szijjarto said he also met leaders of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party founded by ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.