"Our main goal is to achieve an associated agreement with the European Union (EU), which I think is possible." Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said at a joint press conference with his Lithuanian counterpart Algirdas Butkevicius in Vilnius on July 18th.
Ivanishvili visits Lithuania before the Vilnius Summit
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, July 19
Deepening bilateral relations, strengthening economic ties and the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled for November in Vilnius were among the main issues the two prime ministers focused on during the meeting.
Ivanishvili said the upcoming presidential elections in Georgia on October 27, 2013 would be "exemplary" and thus positively influence the process of European integration.
Lithuania currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Butkevicius said achievement of an associated agreement with Georgia during Lithuania’s presidency is among the priorities of the EU. According to the Lithuanian Prime Minister preparatory activities are currently underway.
Butkevicius expressed his hope that the presidential election in Georgia will be truly democratic and the process will be transparent and end without any problems.
Minister of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Aleksi Petriashvili said the Lithuanian government has expressed support towards Georgia’s aspirations to join the EU and NATO. Petriashvili also said the two countries have agreed to create an inter-governmental commission; business forums are also on the Georgian-Lithuanian agenda.
First Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia David Zalkaliani, who is also accompanying Ivanishvili on the trip, emphasized the importance to Georgia of Lithuania currently holding the EU Council Presidency. Zalkaliani also emphasized the two countries have huge potential for economic cooperation.
The upcoming summit meeting of Eastern Partnership countries (EaP) Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and the EU is scheduled to be held in Vilnius on November 28-29, 2013.
Association agreements are international agreements that the EU concludes with third countries as a way to conduct bilateral relations and provide progressive liberalisation of trade.
According to the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, the European Commission is making progress in negotiations on free trade agreements with several EaP countries and hopes to complete them with three: Moldova, Georgia and Armenia.
The negotiations with the three EaP countries centre on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreements (DCFTA) which if signed and implemented put a great deal of EU legislation into the legal systems of the partner countries and effectively create a free trade area with and among these countries.
Leaving Lithuania, Ivanishvili will continue his trip in Poland on July 19th, where he will meet with Polish officials and discuss current issues of bilateral cooperation.