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President of the Republic at the dinner in the honor of the Official Visit on the President of Georgia Mrs Salome Zourabishvili

Eesti seisab jätkuvalt sõbrana Gruusia kõrval ja toetab riigi pürgimist Euroopa Liitu ja NATOsse.
Estonia and Georgia cooperate in very diverse fields, starting from sharing Estonia`s reform experience to working together in defence and education.
© Raigo Pajula

16.05.2019

Your Excellency,
Speaker of the Parliament, Prime Minister,
Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Zourabishvili, dear colleague,

It’s a great pleasure to have you in Estonia. It’s always wonderful to meet and to be with friends. It’s even more wonderful that Georgia is among those nations with whom we don’t need constantly to reassure that we are friends.

Small, hardworking nations, whose right for freedom and choosing freely their own allies is not always self-evident to the big powers, tend to understand each other without words. This close relationship and mutual understanding goes back to late 19th century when first Estonians moved to villages of Estonka, Salme and Sulev. And when Georgian students came to study at Tartu University.

Georgia has always been for us a country that appreciates freedom. For example, one of the first acquaintances Estonians had with Georgian literature was through your desire for freedom. In 1896 the poem “Spring” or “Gasaphuli” by the hero of Georgia’s national movement, Ilia Chavchavadze, was translated and published in our newspaper.

The words go:

Õiemeri nagu lina
Katab sind, Kaukaasia
Millal õitsma lähed sina,
Minu kallis kodumaa?

For Ilia Chavchavadze and his contemporaries Georgia could freely blossom at the same time as Estonia, in 1918. The leaders of Georgian Democratic Republic, among whom also your ancestors were active, wished to create a state that was based on justice and law.

Time was not on their side. Violent twists of history did not allow the relationship of our independent countries to develop uninterruptedly. But the ties between our people remained strong and only deepened during the hard times. History has created a strong and resilient bond between our countries and people and this in turn has laid a solid base for our relations.

Allow me to focus in this beautiful spring evening on present and future. Georgia can be proud of its achievements – you’ve been successful in implementing many hard reforms that are at times painfully hard and difficult to explain to your people. But I believe that Georgia has also realised something very important that we did 15+ years ago – the reforms you make and implement are for your own benefit. Not to please anyone. First and foremost, they are for Georgia and its people. Be it the Association Agreement that deepens the political and economic relations with the EU or developing your defence capabilities in accordance with NATO standards. It is not about ticking the boxes but about overall development. Being fit allows you to contribute. And it’s positive that Georgia has become a security provider by actively contributing to international missions.

A reformed, democratic Georgia is more resilient. It allows you to be ready when the window of opportunity opens. As it was the case for Estonia when we became the members of the European Union and NATO. Of course, the international arena is much different today, but we also know that such opportunities do not open to everyone but only to those who are ready and well prepared.

While celebrating 10 years of Eastern Partnership it is fair to say that Georgia has set a good example also to others what devotion and determination means. And I firmly believe that Georgia deserves more than just kind and encouraging words. Let me assure you that Estonia has and will continue to support your Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The better Georgia is delivering, the stronger is our voice.

Estonia will stand by you. Like we have always stood. Before and after the 2008 August war. In the EU, in NATO and other multilateral organisations such as OSCE and the UN. Pending on the vote on 7th June hopefully also in the UN Security Council. We support Georgia everywhere and with anyone. Because I believe burden sharing applies also to foreign policy. This means having dialogue also with countries that are not necessarily your best friends and who don’t share your value base. The more varied the group of messengers, the stronger the message.

One might ask why do we do this? Because we need to stick together in upholding our common values, international rule of law, the principles of independence and territorial integrity, so that the geopolitical landslides that started in 2008 in Georgia and continued in 2014 in Ukraine would never happen again.

Madam President,

Allow me to raise my glass to Georgia, its people and wish you determination in your aspirations and success in reaching these goals.

Sakartvelos da Estonetis GAUMARJOS! (Gruusia ja Eesti terviseks)
Terviseks!