Batumi hosts the 10th International Conference: "Georgia's European Way"
By Ana Robakidze
Friday, July 12
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule is visiting Georgia. He takes part in the 10th International Conference: "Georgia's European Way: EU's Eastern European Partners - Towards the Vilnius Summit", which takes place in Batumi, on July 11-12.The Bulgarian, Estonian and Slovakian Ministers of Foreign Affairs will also participate in the conference.
The presidential election should strengthen democracy in Georgia, Fule said at a press conference held after his meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili. The EU commissioner hopes the Presidential election will be held in the same transparent and free way the October Parliamentary elections were.
"This was the first time in Georgia's history that the change in government was brought about by completely democratic means. I do not doubt that the presidential election will take place in precisely the same way and will further strengthen democracy in Georgia," Fule stated.
Fule once again emphasized the importance of the Vilnius Summit and said that the summit will give an opportunity to Georgia to prove its commitment to join the European family. Fule welcomes all the reforms carried out recently in Georgia, but he says there is still a lot the country has to do to satisfy the EU. In particular, the organization is concerned over the situation in the conflict regions. The EU commissioner said at the press conference that the problems of the local population are the most disturbing for the EU and its mission. “We keep focusing on this issue. Therefore, we are working on it and have a desire that the two sides will reach an agreement," Fule said, adding that he is looking forward to seeing more settled relations between Georgia and Russia.
Speaking at the press conference, PM Ivanishvili also stressed the importance of the Vilnius Summit. As the PM revealed at the press conference negotiations on the association agreement have been finalized. He expressed hope that the event will turn out to be of historic importance for Georgia which will lead to an initiation of the Association Agreement.
Ivanishvili assured the EU Commissioner that Georgia remains committed to the democratic process and the government strives to strengthen the rule of law, and to establish an effective judicial system. “We are committed to the process of cohabitation”, the PM added.
‘The EU Monitoring Mission is especially important for us, as it looks after our security and monitors the peaceful development of our country. Its role is also a large issue in the Geneva talks. I am sure the EU's emphasis on safety and peace in the region will further increase in the future’, Ivanishvili said. He thanked Fule for supporting Georgia’s aspiration to join the EU and for helping the country on the way to joining the European family.
The EU continues to support Georgia, not only with institutional issues but also financially. Within the framework of the Batumi Conference, Fule held a meeting with the Georgian State Minister of Integration, Alexi Petriashivili. The two signed an agreement on financial support. Pursuant to the agreement, Georgia will receive 16.000 million EUR from the EU, which will be spent on strengthening state institutions which are responsible for state border protection and migration issues.
The Batumi Conference was organized by the Office of the State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration (OSMEEAI), in partnership with the EU and the Republic of Lithuania, bringing together representatives from the EU and the Eastern European Neighbourhood. Participants will discuss the implementation of the European integration agenda, the preparation process for the Vilnius Summit and the progress achieved by the Eastern Partnership.
The event will also be attended by the Georgia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maia Panjikidze, her First Deputy, David Zalkaliani and Deputy Tamar Beruchashvili.
This year, four thematic sessions of the Conference will focus on Democracy and the Rule of Law - Key to the Family of European Nations, Security and Stability in Eastern Europe, Economic Convergence - Prospects and Challenges, and Visa Liberalization Dialogue - Prospects and Challenges.