EU Names Georgia an Eastern Partnership Frontrunner

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili visited Brussels to attend the second meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council, where the Georgian side presented its report.

The Association Council is the highest formal body established under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement in order to supervise the implementation of the Agreement.

Following the event, the two sides released a joint press release saying “the Council began by strongly condemning the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th. Countering violent extremism is an important part of our common agenda and we are determined to defend our common freedoms and values as set out in the Association Agreement.

The Association Council positively assessed the significant progress in EU-Georgia relations since the last meeting of the Association Council back in November 2014. “Both sides reaffirmed their continuing commitment to Georgia’s political association and economic integration with the EU and acknowledged Georgia’s European aspirations, its European choice and the common objective to promote building a democratic, stable and prosperous country.”

The Association Council assessed Georgia as one of the front-runners of the Eastern Partnership.

At the same time, the issue of the forthcoming 2016 elections was underlined. “Both sides agreed on the need to maintain democratic momentum in light of the October 2016 parliamentary elections in Georgia. The EU called on all political actors in Georgia to guarantee a free and pluralistic media environment, as well as political pluralism, as a prerequisite for the conduct of democratic elections while refraining from any steps or statements that could increase tension and foster polarization.”

Georgia’s strategic role in the field of energy and transport connectivity was highlighted, noting that the accession of Georgia to the Energy Community Treaty was key to implementing the energy dimension of the Association Agreement.

The EU reiterated its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. The Association Council expressed concern regarding the developments in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/ South Ossetia, including Russia’s implementation of so-called treaties with the separatist governments.

The council was chaired by Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Frederica Mogherini, led the EU delegation. Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement negotiations also participated on behalf of the EU. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and other members of the Georgian Government were also present.

Steven Jones

19 November 2015 22:05