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Georgia needs to get closer to Europe, Saakashvili says

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, December 11
Georgia needs to get closer to Europe now more than ever before, and it is ready to do its best to reach this goal, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Wednesday at the European People’s Party Statutory Congress in Bonn.

The President said that democracy, freedom and solidarity are the values of the EPP. “These values are the cornerstone of the European values. These values demolished the Berlin Wall 20 years ago and became the base for uniting the European spirit,” President Saakashvili said in his 10 minute speech.

Saakashvili highlighted the importance of allowing the EU monitoring mission into Georgia’s breakaway regions. “Today my country is partly occupied. We have thousands of IDPs, victims of Russian ethnic cleansing in their own country,” the President said. “We are urging, at all international levels, that the European mission be allowed access to the occupied territories and I would like to thank them for the uncompromised work they are doing in Georgia,” he added.

Saakashvili suggested that more activities must be undertaken to force Russia to meet its commitments under the six-point agreement. “We do not want to look weak before the gaze of European security, that’s why we are helping it provide security,” he said. Hundreds of Georgian soldiers are on a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, he told the European leaders.

“After the war everyone thought that Georgia was finished, but I and my friends are carrying on building a democratic state. According to data recently released by Transparency International, Georgia is first in the world in terms of fighting corruption,” the President said. “This is an amazing result from our long and fruitful work. We understand that a lot more remains to be done however,” he said, adding that reforms are underway.

The President commented on relations with the opposition as well. “We are cooperating with the Parliamentary and part of the non-Parliamentary opposition on reforms. Some of the radical opposition participate in National Security Council meetings, as well as in the work of the election code amendments group,” he said. Saakashvili called on European states to get “maximally” involved in the process of the direct election of the Tbilisi Mayor, which is scheduled for May next year.

“Despite the world economic crisis, Georgia still manages to have an attractive investment environment, which is very rare nowadays. That’s why I have initiated an Act of Economic Freedom, which gives guarantees to any businessman of an attractive working environment,” he said.

Georgia wants to become a member of the European family, the President said. “I believe that Georgia’s democratic and economic success will help us make this dream come rue,” he said.