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Coalition support for EU Association Membership not unanimous across the board

By Messenger Staff
Monday, January 27
Leaders of the Georgian Dream coalition continue to repeat that despite the crisis currently unfolding in Ukraine, the events do not jeopardize Georgia’s integration pathway into European structures as a European Union association member.

The Swedish Foreign Minister repeated recently at the Davos World Economic Forum that the document, which was initialed in Vilnius this past November, will be finalized before August 2014. Meanwhile, the document is being translated into Georgian and other European languages.

However, it should be mentioned that there are certain points in the document, which have already received some critical remarks from supporters of the coalition.

Levan Pirveli, a businessman affiliated with the Industrialists’ Party, who immigrated to Austria during the United National Movement (UNM) governance, stated that the text of the association membership contains certain paragraphs that could potentially be damaging to Georgia’s economy.

In particular, he cites commitments in the document that Georgian businesses and entrepreneurs will not be able to fulfill. As such, they will be forced to stop functioning, or simply go bankrupt, and inevitably the owners will be forced to sell them at a low price to foreign entities.

Pirveli argues that Georgian leaders in Vilnius did not protect Georgia’s interests or properly calculate what it would cost Georgia to fulfill EU demands. Comparing the situation with Ukraine, Pirveli said that Ukraine made its own calculations and came to the conclusion that to comply with European standards would cost the country 170 billion Euro. This was the reason the President of Ukraine did not sign the agreement with the EU.

Gogi Topadze, coalition member and leader of the Industrialists, said that he was waiting for the publication of the official transcript of the text. However, he said that he appreciated the position of Azerbaijan, which offered the EU to set a special bilateral principle for signing the agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU.

Overall however, there seems to be no unanimity amongst coalition members regarding the document. This of course is not surprising in that the Georgian Dream coalition consists of parties that hold a wide range of positions and agendas. That said, there are certainly clear-cut Western-oriented elements (Republican Party and the Free Democrats) among the coalition. However, the Industrialists are skeptical about both NATO and EU membership for Georgia. In addition, some skepticism exists amongst members of the Conservative Party and the National Forum. As for the leading Georgian Dream party created by Bidzina Ivanishvili, which is now led by Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, its position is rather eclectic and is not fixed or finalized as of yet.