President Saakashvili’s welcoming address to the Turkish President

I would like to greet our guest, the head of Turkey. We live in a historic time. Today an agreement on joint exploitation of the Batumi airport, which is being built with joint effort of Georgia and Turkey, has been signed. This means that the Batumi airport will function like Geneva airport - it will carry out Turkish flights which will cost as much as internal flights. This will significantly cheapen flights between Turkey and Georgia.

By the end of summer we hope to finish building a runway in the Batumi modern airport, while for the third anniversary of the Rose Revolution we plant to finish building the Tbilisi new airport's terminal.

For the first time after 1970 Georgia will have two new airports.

We are working on number of issues which is a historic breakthrough, indeed. This is a historic coincidence, when one of our neighbouring countries started deporting our citizens and ceased issuing visas for the Georgian citizens, Turkey abolished visa regime with Georgia.

This means that the citizens without paying any money will be able to much move freely. This will give us even more opportunities in terms of trade, tourism, traveling and ensuring more rapid development for the whole Black Sea region.

We agreed on this in Batumi during Recep Tayyip Erdogan's [Turkish Prime Minister] visit and he fulfilled his promise.

Now we are working on free trade agreement which will ensure that the Georgian produce enters the Turkish market without nay problem. We hope that this promise will also be fulfilled. By acting so we would be able to introduce free trade regime on certain kinds of produce.

We will never forget that, during energy sabotage against Georgia, when gas pipelines were blown up, Turkey increased exporting electricity to Georgia as much as it could. This was decided in several hours without any red ties. The Georgian nation will remember this for a long time.

We want to construct a new high-voltage power line with Turkey which will enable us to export and import extra electricity.

A construction boom is starting in Georgia. It is noteworthy that almost the whole staff of a local Turkish company, which is starting working in this sphere, are the Georgians. This means that in this sphere the Georgians are studying from the Turks how to work faster, cheaper, more efficiently and exquisitely.

This points to the fact that there has never been such a specific, successful and mutually beneficial cooperation between Georgia and Turkey as we had in the last year and a half.

This is very important and I am sure that we will manage to integrate our economies and promote our mutual development.

By being interested in the development of our countries we also closely cooperate to establish stability and peace in the Black Sea region.

Turkey is a great state, our close friend and an exemplary country for us.

I have said several times that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's activities which were directed towards Turkey's unification and strengthening is a perfect example for me. I think that what he did for Turkey, we have to do the same for Georgia. Georgia should become a modern, united, developed and successful state and in many issues we should follow the example of our neighboring and friendly country.

We are grateful to Turkey for supporting our integration into NATO.

NATO integration is vital for our political development and we will be a firm, consistent and open supporters of Turkey's EU integration. I think this is a correct and to some extant somewhat delayed process which should be accomplished in the shortest period.

Let me greet you again Mr President. Your visit is a great honor for us. The documents we have signed today as well as abolishing visa regime are of great importance for us.

Frankly speaking, I wanted to see those people who would be the firsts to cross Georgian-Turkish border, which was one of the most closed borders during the cold war, without any extra documents, barriers and restrictions.

This will enter the history as the most successful fact in terms of the development of bilateral relations and the whole region.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Turkey for the positive role it plaid to solve Adjara crisis peacefully.

Today, one of the major goals of the Georgian government is to make Adjara a perfect regional example of successful development and we will move towards this goal through the assistance of Turkey.

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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