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EU's Ashton Urges Georgia 'Cohabitation'


Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (right) meets with European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton in Tbilisi on November 26.
Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (right) meets with European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton in Tbilisi on November 26.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has called for Georgia's president and prime minister to cooperate more closely in the interest of the Georgian people.

Ashton, who was on a brief visit to Tbilisi, spoke after talks with President Mikheil Saakashvili and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who represent rival political forces.

"We talked about the need to find good ways to have what I think we call cohabitation in every language between the president and the prime minister [of Georgia] and their teams and to ensure that their interest is in working for the people of Georgia into the future," EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Ashton said.

READ our interview with Ashton ahead of her trip

Her visit comes nearly two months after parliamentary elections in Georgia on October 1 brought Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream political coalition to power.

She urged both Saakashvili and Ivanishvili to continue "to contribute constructively to Georgia’s good governance."

'No Retribution'

In a separate statement released after the talks, Ashton said that there should be "no retribution against political rivals."

Ashton's statement comes days after 12 Georgian Interior Ministry officials were charged with abuse of office.

Ivanishvili's ruling coalition says the officials from Saakashvili's United National Movement party are suspected of illegally wiretapping senior Georgian politicians, including Ivanishvili himself before he became prime minister.

Earlier this month, investigations were launched against Georgia's former interior minister, the armed forces chief of staff, and a Georgian Army brigade commander.

Message To Moscow

Ashton's statement also reiterated that "the European Union is committed to Georgia’s territorial integrity."

Georgia and Russia fought a short military conflict in August 2008 over the separatist region of South Ossetia.

Moscow subsequently recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia's other breakaway region. Georgia considers the two regions part of its territory.

The EU foreign policy chief also said she had discussed economic cooperation with Georgia, including an association agreement between the 27-member bloc and Tbilisi, as well as the situation of EU visa regime for Georgians.

Ashton is scheduled to visit Kyrgyzstan on November 27, followed by Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.

With additional reporting by

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