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“We Are Europe,” New Georgian Prime Minister Tells RFE/RL

Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia
Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili used his visit to RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters today to affirm his government’s commitment to Europe, amidst fraught relations within the region and between the West and Russia over European security, Ukraine, and Syria.

The visit, part of an official two-day trip to the Czech Republic that included meetings with political counterparts, business leaders, and students, came just days after the prime minister spoke exclusively with RFE/RL’s Georgian Service in Tbilisi in his first major interview with any media since assuming office on December 30, 2015. The interview was cited by dozens of media outlets in both Georgia and Russia, and reached 200,000 people via the Georgian Service’s Facebook page and website.

In the interview, Kvirikashvili declared, “We are not moving towards Europe, but we are Europe,” removing any ambiguity about his government’s political vision. He said, “We will do everything in our power to make sure that every citizen of Georgia, every business entity, every single small-scale entrepreneur becomes aware of the benefits of European integration.”

He then described how his government would reconcile its European aspirations with the challenges posed by Russia. “We are doing everything we can to bring our message to Russian politicians – that Georgia, with its Western values, pro-Western orientation and its desire to integrate with the West, is not opposing Russia and is not seeking any confrontation with Russia.” At the same time, Kvirikashvili flatly rejected the possibility of political normalization with Russia absent its recognition of Georgia’s territorial integrity, calling this principle "fundamental" and beyond compromise.

Kvirikashvili spoke warmly of Georgia's relationship with the U.S., characterizing it as “one of our best,” and recognized the U.S. as "a very solid supporter of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

About RFE/RL and its Georgian Service
RFE/RL is a private, independent international news organization whose programs -- radio, Internet, television, and mobile -- reach influential audiences in 23 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

RFE/RL’s Georgian Service, Radio Tavisupleba is a rare, and award-winning, source of balanced journalism in a country where much of the press openly supports, both editorially and through the selection of news, either the government or the opposition.