President-Elect Talks Foreign Policy, Announces First Visit to Brussels

President-elect Salome Zurabishvili says there will be two overarching priorities of her six-year term in office: domestically- to unify the society, and externally- to secure Georgia’s EU and NATO membership.

Zurabishvili, who is to assume the presidential office in mid-December, outlined her priorities in her interviews on November 29.

The President-elect told Imedi TV that as president she will strive to reconcile and unify the Georgian society, and that her being a female will contribute to that. She also stressed she will not be engaged in party politics, but instead will invest her time in “societal changes.”

Zurabishvili added that her second priority will be to anchor Georgia to the European Union and NATO. “We have to demonstrate that Europe needs us together with our values and our past – that this is a two-way street – us being in Europe and Europe being in Georgia.”

Speaking with TV Pirveli, the President-elect also announced that her first official visit will be to Brussels, followed by Berlin and Paris. She said she will travel to the Baltic capitals next.

Zurabishvili also spoke with a number of foreign outlets on November 29. “My priorities are to bring Georgia in Europe. I came from Europe to Georgia for that … I have been elected by a society that wants more Europe into Georgia and Georgia into the EU,” she told Euronews.

Zurabishvili commented on Russia as well, saying its aggression against Georgia “has never stopped.” “We have an occupying line, within Georgian territory that is moving every day. We have people living close to the occupying line who are abducted constantly,” she noted.

“[The Russian occupation] is a very big, an everyday and concrete threat to the stability of Georgia,” the President-elect told the Israeli-based i24News TV.

“Russia has to be held accountable for what is happening in Georgia and in Ukraine; Russia has to understand that to be part of the international community means responsibility for stability and stop behaving like the old, Soviet imperialist power,” Zurabishvili asserted.

With BBC Russian, Zurabishvili said: “I do not think at this time and age until Russia is behaving the way it does on our occupying line… we can enter into cooperation mode.”

“If the West, Europe and our American partners move to any form of discussion with Russia, that is where we need to be close and informed in order for our principles and objectives, our sovereignty and territorial integrity to be respected,” the President-elect added.

Election assessments, relations with the ruling party

Asked whether she shares the international assessments that there were a number of problems in how the elections were conducted, Zurabishvili said “there were shortcomings in the elections, but [overall] it was a very European campaign – from my side first of all.”

“It is very important for our country that we demonstrated yet another example of democratic elections, I think this is a new beginning for our statehood, for our democracy,” she added.

The President-elect also touched upon her relations with the Georgian Dream party, saying she will need to cooperate with the ruling party “in order to be an effective president and to implement the initiatives coming from the people.”

“At the same time, I consider myself independent, I have my principles, my red lines; I hope the time will never come for me to make a choice [between own principles and the party line], but there are issues that I have my personal opinions about and that the ruling party is aware of,” she said.

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