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Fule says the EU will stand firmly by Georgia

By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, March 5
EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule arrived in Tbilisi on his two-day official visit.

Fule arrived in Tbilisi to discuss important aspects of the EU-Georgia relations, notably the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), and the opportunities this brings for Georgia and its people, as well as for developing even closer ties with the EU. He will hold meetings with the President, members of government, speaker of the parliament, representative of the opposition and civil society.

According to the Prime Minister’s press office “during the face-to-face meeting, the parties discussed issues of Georgia-EU cooperation. The Georgian PM thanked Fule for his visit, which according to him, represents one more confirmation of the EU's steadfast support for Georgia on its way towards Euro-integration.

“While the international community looks on with increasing concern at the events in Crimea, let us remember that Russia's behavior here in Georgia is also a matter for serious concern. Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty continues to be challenged by Russia, including by the construction of barriers and military installations which hinder free movement between people who used to enjoy close relations,” Fule said at the press conference following his meeting with the Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze. He added that Georgia is not an exception and “Russia must abide by international law and respect the sovereignty of its neighbor.”

According to the commissioner, Georgia and the EU have established a unique relationship and it is about to be taken to a new level, by signing the Association Agreement, including the DCFTA.

“The signature of the Association Agreement, including the DCFTA, will bring Georgia and its people closer to the European Union, to our values, standards and markets. And I am here to stress the highest political importance which the Member States attach to concluding the Association Agreement, including DCFTA with Georgia.” Fule stated.

He explained that one of the main goals of his visit is to speak about the benefits of the Association Agreement for Georgian citizens. At the press conference Fule briefed the major benefits of the agreement and said it will “not provide for miracles overnight” but “it will pave the way for modernization of the state, society and the economy.”

According to the Commissioner the Associating Agreement will reinforce the rule of law and consolidate democratic institutions, provide higher guarantees for rights and freedoms. It will attract investments, create jobs, and stimulate growth, cause improvements to the quality of life, greater variety of goods, competitive prices and higher standards in health and environmental safety.

“The tasks and challenges ahead are not easy. We are very well aware of the pressure that was brought on Ukraine because of its willingness to sign the agreement. We know that this pressure also exists elsewhere in the Eastern Partnership. The EU will stand firmly by Georgia should it too experience any kind of pressure,” Fule said.

Foreign Minister Panjikidze said that considering the existing challenges in the region and the recent events in Ukraine, the European perspective has become of vital importance for Georgia. She confirmed that Georgia is ready to sign the AA and both sides are working to fulfill all related procedures.