Both sides emphasised the expected benefits of the free trade agreement between Georgia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). For Switzerland the agreement is expected to enter into force in spring 2018. The solid legal framework in bilateral relations will be further reinforced by an agreement on the protection of designations of origin. There is potential for a significant boost in economic relations in the areas of transport, tourism, logistics and energy.
Political relations between Switzerland and Georgia are good and close. Ms Leuthard stressed that Switzerland places great value on international exchanges between mountain regions – all the more so in view of the challenges presented by climate change. The current cooperation strategy for South Caucasus confirms the region’s high political and economic relevance for Switzerland. It aims to support sustainable and inclusive economic development, effective democratic institutions and human security.
Switzerland’s good offices and relations between Georgia and Russia were important topics during the talks. Switzerland has held protecting power mandates representing Georgia’s diplomatic interests in Russia, and Russia’s interests in Georgia since 2009. The Swiss delegation explained that cooperation with both sides was extremely good.
The talks also covered cooperation between Switzerland and Georgia at international level, relations between Georgia and the European Union and the Schengen area, and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which was the subject of an international conference in Tbilisi at the end of November.
During her visit, Ms Leuthard met representatives from Swiss firms active in the country and laid a wreath at the monument on Heroes’ Square in Tbilisi. The programme also included a meeting with the Chairman of the Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze and a tour of parliament.
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