Jean-Yves Le Drian will pay a visit to the South Caucasus from 26 to 28 May. He will visit the region’s three countries in turn: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
There will be two crucial dimensions to these visits: firstly, presence at the celebrations organized to mark the centenary of the declaration of the first republics in each country of the region; secondly, strengthening our relations with each country.
In Tbilisi, Baku and Yerevan, the minister for Europe and foreign affairs will take part in the commemorations of the three republics’ declarations of independence in 1918.
France’s participation in the ceremonies marking the centenary of independence illustrates the long-standing nature of our bilateral relations, to which Jean-Yves Le Drian will give fresh impetus during the visit: He will have working meetings with his counterparts and be received by heads of state and government.
These meetings will allow us to strengthen our political dialogue by emphasizing the primacy of the rule of law, good governance and the observance of individual and collective freedoms. Mr. Le Drian will support our businesses’ projects to step up our economic and commercial presence. Finally, he will promote educational cooperation projects drawing on our educational institutions, the teaching of French and university partnerships.
In Georgia, the minister will meet President Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Kvirikashvili and Foreign Minister Janelidze. He will assure his interlocutors of France’s support for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
Jean-Yves Le Drian will take part in the parade organized in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square for the centenary of the first Republic. It will provide an opportunity to pay tribute to the brotherhood-in-arms between French and Georgian soldiers, who are engaged side by side in peacekeeping operations, particularly in the Central African Republic.
The Minister will open an exhibition showing a selection of diplomatic archives kept by the Foreign Ministry on relations between the first Republic of Georgia and France, which hosted the government in exile from 1921 onwards.
Jean-Yves Le Drian will sign an academic cooperation agreement aimed at establishing a French-Georgian university in the form of a network of partnerships providing joint and delocalized training courses.
In Azerbaijan, the minister will have meetings with President Aliyev, First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva, Foreign Minister Mammadyarov and Finance Minister Sharifov. Mr. Le Drian will review current international issues and discuss bilateral relations. At economic level, our cooperation will be strengthened by the signature of agreements between manufacturers from both countries and by the possible prospect of training tailored to market needs.
Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit the French-Azerbaijani University, opened in 2016 and rapidly developing. On its premises, built by the Azeri government, Jean-Yves Le Drian will open an exhibition of French archives devoted to the first Republic of Azerbaijan. The Minister will also have a discussion with students.
In Armenia, the minister will have a meeting with President Sarkissian, Prime Minister Pashinyan and Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan. He will be the first European minister to meet the new authorities.
With his interlocutors, Mr. Le Drian will look at the various aspects of our relations, including ways of boosting economic exchanges. The signature of an agreement to establish the French Development Agency in Armenia will be a step towards deepening our economic cooperation.
The Minister will visit the French University in Armenia, a flagship of our educational cooperation. He will meet students there, whose numbers are growing and who, from September 2018 onwards, will be able to enroll in a new applied mathematics and computer science course.