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EU troika weighs in on Georgia’s political standoff

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 6
Top EU representatives arrived in Tbilisi to discuss the European Neighborhood Policy and regional cooperation yesterday, but inevitably were called to weigh in on the domestic political situation after meeting with the government and the opposition.

The EU delegation, headed by Slovenian Foreign Minister and President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, Dimitrij Rupel, met with government officials first, underlining the progress made in Georgia-EU relations.

“Cooperation between Georgia and the EU is becoming increasingly intensive,” Rupel told journalists, while newly appointed Foreign Minister Davit Bakradze described the talks as “very positive.”

Addressing the government’s concern about Kosovo, which is set to declare independence in the near future, the EU delegation reiterated that this should not become a precedent for Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Later in the day, EU officials met with the political opposition and discussed the ongoing political uncertainty.

“Their advice was for the opposition to focus our efforts on parliamentary elections,” opposition coalition representative Kakha Kukava said, continuing, “The main thing is that we work together to ensure these elections are held democratically.”

Tina Khidasheli, also of the opposition coalition, said they pressed for the EU to “become the central player from the international community in Georgia.”

European commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the recent presidential election was a “step forward” but added that problems highlighted by international observers “should certainly be taken into account during the parliamentary elections.”

She also called on the government to pay more attention to reforms in the public sector, following success in fighting corruption and implementing economic reform.

The EU troika rounds of its three-day trip to the South Caucasus today in Armenia. It discussed regional and EU cooperation issues as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan earlier in the week.

All three South Caucasus states adopted European Neighborhood Action Plans, country-specific reform agendas for countries in the European neighborhood, in late 2006.