President Moon Jae-in spoke on the phone with President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili, at the request of the Georgian President, for 35 minutes from 4:00 p.m. today. Even though today’s phone call was the first time for the two leaders to speak to one another, it proved to be a summit-like opportunity to exchange a wide range of views on how to work together on their responses to the COVID-19 outbreak as well as other issues of mutual interest.
President Moon conveyed his sympathy and condolences regarding the number of confirmed cases and deaths caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in Georgia. He noted the fact that the Georgian Government, under the leadership of President Zourabichvili, had rapidly and effectively responded to the outbreak from its early stage, successfully bringing COVID-19 under control as evidenced by the lifting of the national state of emergency scheduled for the end of this week.
President Zourabichvili praised the Korean Government’s effective COVID-19 response, noting that it has become a global model. In particular, she expressed her profound gratitude to the Korean Government for providing support to the Georgian Government’s purchase of diagnostic kits in the process of its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. She added that there has been high satisfaction with the quality of kits.
President Moon said he had emphasized the spirit of “freedom for all” in his address to the World Health Assembly on May 18 and noted that international solidarity and cooperation are of paramount importance to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak. The President added that Korea would continue to share with Georgia its experience with treatment and COVID-19 prevention and control as well as clinical data.
The two leaders shared their mutual understanding that COVID-19 treatments and vaccines must be equitably distributed as public goods for all humankind after their development. The two leaders also agreed that the climate change issue requires deeper attention and enhanced responses.
President Zourabichvili inquired about the measures Korea had taken during its general election in April as Georgia is also scheduled to hold a general election in October. In reply, President Moon explained in detail the thorough infectious disease prevention and control measures that were taken, including the wearing of face masks and disposable plastic gloves and the maintaining of safe distances. The President went on to say that Korea will share its experience through communication between the election authorities of the two countries, and President Zourabichvili expressed her gratitude.
President Moon emphasized that Georgia is an important partner in Korea’s New Northern Policy. The President expressed the hope that the two countries’ substantive cooperation will be further strengthened by Korean companies’ participation in the Nenskra hydropower plant project and the conclusion of a bilateral air services agreement.
President Zourabichvili requested that consultations begin on a bilateral FTA, that Korea’s diplomatic presence in Georgia be upgraded to an embassy and that President Moon visit Georgia. President Moon proposed having the two countries’ relevant authorities consult closely on these issues.
Moreover, President Zourabichvili expressed high regard for the historic significance of the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement in Korea’s democratization process and the fact that its recent 40th anniversary ceremony was held in a very meaningful way. In reply, President Moon expressed his gratitude for the Georgian President’s consideration.