Gharibashvili meets EU officials in Brussels
By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, February 5
“It is crucial to sustain Georgia's important achievements towards good governance, strong political institutions and effective policies to promote economic growth,” European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso said at the press conference held after the meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili in Brussels.
Barosso also praised the strategy of the Georgian government, especially the 2020 strategy for economic development and relevant reforms for the Visa Liberalization Dialogue.
“I have urged Prime Minister Gharibashvili to continue to pay careful attention to defending political pluralism and media freedom, the hallmarks of a healthy and pluralist democracy. I particularly emphasized the importance of ensuring that criminal prosecutions are evidence-based, transparent, free of political motivation, impartial, and fully in line with democratic values,” President Barosso said.
He expressed his concern over the ongoing construction of fences and barriers along the administrative boundary with South Ossetia, and said the European Union is keen to support conflict resolution in Georgia, including through its co-chairmanship of the Geneva International Talks and the Monitoring Mission in Georgia.
The President of the European Commission expressed his hope that a “historic” association agreement between the EU and Georgia will be signed no later than August.
PM Gharibashvili confirmed that signing the Association Agreement is the major priority for Georgia. “Implementation of the Association Agreement is a challenging process. In this process EU’s solidarity and strong political support, as well as technical and financial assistance will be of critical importance.” He said after the meeting.
After Gharibashvili’s meeting with the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, it was announced in Brussels that Fule will visit Georgia March 3-4. According to the Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, the EU Commissioner will take part in a Batumi Conference and in a conference dedicated to Georgia-EU relations.
Within the working visit to Brussels, PM Gharibashvili also met President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy; Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom; and Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Oettinger. Gharibashvili’s meeting with the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is planned on February 5.