Georgia Accelerating on Her EU Path

The European Commission on December 18th issued a positive report on Georgia’s visa liberalization process, giving a green light to the country that has long aspired to return to her historical family, Europe.

The Commission positively assessed the overall achievement of Georgia in terms of carrying out a number of successful reforms in diverse sectors.

“The EU-Georgia Visa Dialogue has proved to be an important and particularly effective tool for advancing far-reaching and difficult reforms in the Justice and Home Affairs area and beyond, impacting on areas such as the rule of law and justice reform. Beyond VLAP (Visa Liberalization Action Plan) benchmarks, Georgia took further steps to reform the Judiciary as well as the Prosecutor’s Office. These issues are monitored in other dialogue frameworks, such as the Association Committee and the Association Council, and will also be monitored in the context of the Association Agenda,” the report states.

President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, has welcomed the positive report believing that [it] fully reflects the progress that Georgia has achieved in the last three years.

The President stated that a very important process is awaiting the country, which must be crowned by the EU’s political decision on officially opening EU borders for Georgian citizens.

The President is confident the government, parliament, political parties and society will remain united in realization of the European choice.

Following the European Commission’s report, Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, held a special press conference for media representatives.

“Today, the dream of many of my fellow citizens and ancestors has come true,” the PM said, going on to name the day as historic for Georgia.

“Today is a historic day for our country and its citizens. We have stepped forward on our way to European Integration, which will largely determine our future with the European family,” he said.

“Today we have enough reason to celebrate,” Janos Herman, the Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia stated at a special press-conference. “For us, the EU Delegation, it is a great honor to be involved in this process. All EU member countries will also be happy and share this feeling. We all congratulate everyone who participated in this important success,” Herman stated.

He said, “given the experience of Moldova, the period that lasted from the progress report to the introduction of visa liberalization lasted 4-5 months. However, there might be a considerable difference between the countries,” the EU Ambassador added.

He emphasized that the European Commission will continue to monitor how Georgia performs the commitments under the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization.

The Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II said Georgia should not think not what Europe will bring, but also what [we] can offer Europe.

The Patriarch also confirmed that Georgia has taken a big step toward Europe. “This is a great achievement, a great celebration for all the people, including the Church.”

The Washington Post released an article following the ‘big news’ for Georgia stating that western orientation is prevailing in Georgia.

“Last Friday, after years of diplomatic wrangling over the course of two administrations, the Republic of Georgia received a report from the European Union allowing its citizens visa-free travel within the European Union sometime soon. Nevertheless, some news media earlier this year suggested that Georgia was turning toward Russia rather than the EU,” the WP says.

The article says, since its independence in 1991, Georgia has favored Europe overwhelmingly. “Polling has found levels of support for the EU that Brussels could only dream of elsewhere in Europe, and serious ongoing problems between Georgia and Russia would naturally strengthen those pro-Europe leanings.”

According to WP, politicians need to talk to the public about why a Euro-Atlantic orientation is important for Georgia, if that’s what they really want for the country. Otherwise, it could start shifting north again. That said, it hasn’t, yet,” the article concludes.

Paul Stronski, representative of the Carnegie Peace Foundation’s Eurasian Program, sees Georgia as a worthy partner of the US and Europe, deserving of a loosening of visa regulations.

“I hope that after some time, and it will take a longer time of course, a visa-free regime will be introduced with the United States, too,” Stronski told the Georgian bureau of Voice of America.

Georgia’s European path has long been countered by the Russian side that has occupied one fifth of Georgia’s sovereign territory, widely utilizing her soft power, information propaganda as well as other means, to hinder the country’s steady shift from the Russian influence.

Despite Russia’s continuous efforts to make Georgia reverse from her Euro-Atlantic course, the principle of “more Europe in Georgia and more Georgia in Europe” is gaining greater and greater value.


Zviad Adzinbaia

24 December 2015 19:13