Merkel's first stop in Caucasus: Tbilisi
Tbilisi is expecting German Chancellor Angela Merkel's first visit to Georgia.
The German Chancellor will arrive in Tbilisi today at 15:30 local time. She will be met at the Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport by Georgia's Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and the Ambassador of Georgia to Germany Elguja Khokrishvili.
Merkel will hold her first meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze. The meeting will be followed by a joint press conference of Merkel and Bakhtadze. After which Merkel will leave the government administration building to meet President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili.
"The visit of the German chancellor has high significance for us. We want to improve our bilateral cooperation with Germany and move it into a new format. Germany, as a leading country of the EU which supports Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, has a very important role in this process," Agenda.ge cited Khokrishvili as saying.
The envoy added that the German government has a new policy towards countries in the region and the chancellor is going to discuss very important issues during her visit to Georgia.
The Chancellor will leave for Yerevan on August 24 and finish her South Caucasus tour with a visit to Baku on Saturday.
The head of the Center for Security Studies and International Relations of Georgia, Nika Chitadze, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Germany has several groups of interest in Georgia. "First, Germany is interested in Georgia's transit potential, alternative projects of hydrocarbon supplies to Europe will be discussed within the framework of the visit to the South Caucasus. Second, Germany is interested in investing in various sectors of Georgia's economy. I think that this visit will hale to establish contacts between business partners in Germany and Georgia. Germany is Europe's largest economy and the fourth largest in the world after the U.S., China and Japan, and it is ready to invest in the South Caucasus region, which is of a great geopolitical and geo-economic importance," he said in the first place.
"In addition, they will consider the prospects for further integration of Georgia into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. We know that while Germany has refused to provide Georgia with an action plan for NATO membership, and this issue will certainly be put on the agenda. Prospects for developing democratic institutions of Georgia will also be considered. We know that several German funds operate in Georgia, including the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, which work to strengthen the civil society in Georgia and strengthen democratic institutions. In addition, I think Germany will seek to play a more active role as a mediator in the conflict between Russia and Georgia," Nika Chitadze predicts.
The head of the Center for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus, Mamuka Areshidze, in turn, stressed that this visit will be primary about the issues of cooperation between the South Caucasian countries and the European Union as a whole, not so much about bilateral relations. "Merkel has been very active in foreign forums recently. Her foreign policy is even more effective than the domestic one. As for the visit to the South Caucasus, I think it will demonstrate the position of the European Union in relation to the region as a whole. There is a mood in the European Union that the United States, on the one hand, and Russia-Turkey-Iran, on the other hand, are much more active in the Caucasus than the EU. That is, Merkel will voice the interests of the European Union in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan," he expects.
"On the other hand, after her meetings with Putin and Trump, she has a certain message for us, which was agreed with the presidents of Russia and the U.S. We do not know whether there was a conversation about the South Caucasus with Putin or Trump, but they certainly discussed geopolitics and the formation of a new world order. And she definitely has something to say to the leaders of the southern countries in this respect. As the European Union and Germany are part of global politics, they cannot but have an interest in the South Caucasus. Another very important issue is refugees. Being the main conductor of these refugees, Turkey is located near the South Caucasus. In this regard, Germany whats to know what kind of migration policy the South Caucasian countries are going to implement," Mamuka Areshidze concluded.