On 9 November in Sofia, a meeting took place of the Foreign Ministry representatives of Georgia's "New Friends" (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Rumania), in which Latvia was represented by Deputy Policy Director Juris Poikans.
Issues discussed during the meeting included internal policy reforms in Georgia, relations between Georgia and NATO and Georgia and the EU, and possibilities of resolving conflict stalemate situations.
Members of the "new friends" group emphasised that the planned signing of the EU-Georgia European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan, its successful implementation, and the commencement of an "intensive dialogue" between NATO and Georgia opens up new opportunities for Georgia's national development, and its dialogues with the EU and NATO.
The Latvian representative emphasised in particular Latvia's readiness to share in its experience of reform, so that Georgia might more effectively utilise the opportunities provided by the new mechanism, and thus move closer to the Euro-Atlantic community.
The group expressed concerns about the development of Georgia-Russia relations. Meeting participants invited both sides to refrain from policies of conflict and to renew normal diplomatic dialogue.
The meeting expressed support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and supported Georgia's efforts to find a peaceful solution to the stalemated conflict, and expressed disquiet at the lack of progress in negotiations.
This was the first meeting of the "New Friends of Georgia" group to be attended by representatives of the Czech Republic. The Group also emphasised that it was open to participants from other countries.
The "New Friends of Georgia" group is a format in which the above-mentioned countries are participating to encourage Georgia's efforts towards transatlantic integration. It is planned to organise the next meeting of the Group in 2007.
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