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Stefan Fule: EU remains committed to Georgian territorial integrity

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, May 13
Georgia’s European aspirations have not changed. EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fule, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Daisy Sindelar, that the new government has the same commitment as the previous one.

On Sindelar’s question how this has changed Georgia’s European aspirations if at all, Fule said it has not changed that much in the deeds.

Fule said the October 1st Parliamentary Election has brought cohabitation “which is not an easy element,” but it is a challenge for the Prime Minister and the President.

He said Georgia’s shift in political leadership has not set back the country’s Western-integration aims, although he called on Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili to do more to set their political differences aside and cooperate on policy goals.

According to Fule, it is a difficult moment at the beginning he said: “we are now seeing some first signs of reaching out from the PM and the government and president.”

Conceptual agreement on foreign policy and cooperation on justice-related issues were referred to by Fule as examples of the move forward. “And I see for Georgia it also contributes quite significantly amid the success of the Vilnius Summit at the end of November,” the EU Commissioner said.

EU Commissioner said Georgia could expect to take steps forward in their EU integration bids this fall, when the bloc hosts an Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

Fule referred to the EU-Georgian negotiations about the associated agreement including the economic integration part of the proceedings, which he said is developing “quite well.”

Discussions in the frames of the visa dialogue are also underway on the visa liberalization action plan.

Stressing that the relations between Georgia and Russia have somehow improved in recent months, while Russia continues to have a presence in breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the journalist asked what is the EU doing to address this “Russian occupation?”

Fule said the EU first of all calls on Russia to fully implement the session of the hostility agreement. Fule referred to the six-point ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008 and its implementing measures of September 8, 2008.

“We are calling upon Russia also to avoid a military build-up. We are repeating again and again how much we are committed to the territorial integrity of Georgia,” he said, adding that the EU is working hard with the Georgian government to reach out to the population in the breakaway territories.

Speaking at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on May 9, Fule addressed a variety of issues related to the enlargement aspirations of the six Eastern Partnership countries and the nations of the Western Balkans.