High Representative of the European Union visits Georgia
By Ana Robakidze
Tuesday, November 27
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission arrived in Georgia on November 26. Meetings with the president Mikheil Saakashvili, PM Bidzina Ivanishvili and Foreign Minister Maia Fanjikidze were on the schedule of her one-day visit.
“I am very much looking forward to meeting the Prime Minister and the President of Georgia in Tbilisi and to making progress on the significant agenda of EU-Georgia relations together with them,” was said in Ashton’s statement, ahead of her visit.
EU-Georgian relations, including the work of the EU’s Monitoring Mission in Georgia, Georgia’s cooperation with the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy, Georgia’s contribution to international security, and country’s domestic policy are the main issues for the visit. Ashton was also expected to stress the importance of impartial justice and respect for the rule of law with the president and the PM.
“Our cooperation is wide-ranging and we have much to discuss, including the rapid progress being made towards an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.” The aforementioned statement said. The High Representative also stressed the positive democratic conduct of the recent parliamentary election and said Georgia could count on the EU's support.
“We had a very interesting and I would say warm meeting,” Ivanishvili commented after the meeting with the High Representative. The PM announced that the main issues of the meeting were once again Georgia’s integration with EU and NATO. Ivanishvili once confirmed with the EU Commissioner that the new government is firm about following the same path Georgia has chosen, which leads to further integration with the West. “Our strategy will not be changed,” the PM added.
Ivanishvili and Ashton also spoke about the possible ways of settling relations with Russia. Both sides confirmed that they remain supportive of the Geneva Talks and the format of the talks should be kept immutable. The PM considers first of all that it is important to establish trade and cultural relations with Russia, which should help with gradually restoring normal relations between two countries.
In the case that it is impossible to sign an association agreement with EU before the Vilnius Summit, Georgia hopes to at least initial it. Establishing and expanding free trade relations with the EU and as well as the liberalization of the visa policy for Georgian citizens, was also discussed with the High Representative.
“I was delighted to come and meet with the Prime Ministers, to offer him congratulations on his election, to talk to him on the important issues from the EU perspective.” Ashton commented.
"We talked about the need to work in a regional context. The EU is a strong partner of the integrity of this country and of the future of this country,” she added, also stressing the importance of finding ways of cohabitation between the President and the PM and their teams.
The high representative also met president Saakashvili in the Presidential Palace. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maia Fanjikidze and the Secretary of National Security Council Giga Bokeria. Georgia’s contribution to International security, the work of the EU’s Monitoring Mission and association agreement on membership was discussed on the meeting.
Before leaving the country Ashton gave a press conference where she positively assessed her short visit in the country. She stressed the importance of the first democratic transition of power in the history of independent Georgia. The high representative called on both the President and the PM to collaborate constructively. She also warmly welcomed the offer of the Georgian government to host the EU informal meeting in Tbilisi.