President of Finland pays official visit to Georgia

President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, paid an official visit to Georgia on September 28. The reception ceremony took place in the Parliament's garden. After the reception ceremony the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, and the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, had an hour face-to-face talk.

Afterwards the two Presidents held a joint news conference and highlighted several important issues. The Presidents named cooperation between the businessmen to be the priority in Georgia-Finland relationship. They also discussed the importance of close relationship with the EU and peaceful settlement of the existing conflicts on the Georgian territory.

"Georgia has become an interesting country. Now we are hosting the Finnish president. Her visit will be followed by a series of visits. The Finnish president is the first leader of a Scandinavian country ever to visit Georgia. We are expecting other guests, the presidents of our neighbouring countries, too. On October 12 we will host an opening ceremony of the Georgian section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that will be attended by the Turkish and Azerbaijani presidents. In the next few days, there will be very important visits of the Kazakh president and the Latvian president. We also have a preliminary agreement on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's visit. Many other leaders, including the Speaker of the US Congress, [Dennis] Hastert, will visit too. It is a very important visit.

Cooperation with Finland and generally with northern countries is very important for us. According to all estimates, Finland is the least corrupt country in the world and one of the most effective economies in Europe. I think that cooperation with such a country, in all spheres, especially in the economic sphere, is very important for us. We are working very hard on attracting investments. It is very important that we become an example of transparency, absence of corruption, effective management and effective economy.

We also discussed regional cooperation. You know that after signing the [Georgian-Ukrainian] Borjomi declaration [on regional democracy], we are expecting to hold an extended meeting in Ukraine that will be attended by Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania, Romania and probably other countries of the region. For the first time, CIS countries will join NATO and EU countries in one bloc. This will be a coalition, not an international organization, but this will be the first case of sharing experience in this manner. I also want to note regarding Ukraine that our ministries have been working very intensively. We are sharing our reform experience. That is very important.

The World Bank recognized Georgia to be an outright reformer in the CIS space. Georgia is also the second in the liberalization of economy. This is the evaluation made by the most authoritative financial organization. We support the three-plus-three format, proposed by Georgia and Lithuania, on cooperation between the Baltic and South Caucasus countries. You can see that Georgia has initiated many interesting processes.

We also discussed our peace plan regarding the Tskhinvali region [South Ossetia]. Georgia firmly adheres to the policy of peaceful settlement of all conflicts inherited by us. We hope to hold a constructive dialogue on these topics with the Russian Federation as well.

I once again welcome the Finnish president. I hope that her visit will mark the beginning of new relations between our countries" President Saakashvili stated.

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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