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Barosso says the EU supports European aspirations of Georgia

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, June 16
President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said in Tbilisi the Association Agreement (AA) including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DFCTA) which is planned to be signed on June 27 between Georgia and the European Union is the greatest stimulus for the country’s economy and its stability.

Speaking at the press conference after meeting Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, Barosso said the AA is a great investment in the future with real value. Barosso believes the agreement will bring lasting development, open new markets, create new jobs, and trade needs to grow on the foundations of a rules-based economy and value-based institutions in Georgia. It shall also implement EU standards, including the rule of law, independence of the judicial system and respect to human rights in the country. He emphasized that the AA is just the beginning of the EU and Georgia’s cooperation.

"We know about the European aspirations of the Georgian people and respond to them positively, the reflection of which is the signing of the Association Agreement on June 27", President of the European Commission stated.

Barosso stressed that the EU supports Georgia in its relations with Russia and the AA would not prevent Georgia to improve relations with its neighbors.

"We do not oppose Georgia’s relations with other countries. We are finalizing a free-trade agreements with many countries in the world that also have free trade agreements with other countries. We do not see trade as a barrier, we see trade as an opportunity… The Association Agreement is not against anyone - it is for free trade. We do not see trade from the perspective of politics, it is more opportunity for the creation of jobs,” he said.

Georgian government has been trying to advance the country towards its integration with the EU and NATO for many years now and it is expecting significant results in 2014. Apart from June 27th when the government will finally sign the AA with the EU Georgia has high expectations for September 2014, when NATO Summit will take place in Wales. Georgia is expecting to be granted with NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), while participation in the MAP does not prejudge any decision by the Alliance on future membership, receiving it will still be a great success for Georgia.

While Georgia is actively participating in the NATO peacekeeping missions and preparing for its big Summit in September, Thomas de Waal a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, advises the Georgia government to give up on it ambition to join the alliance. De Waal believes Georgia should focus solely on the EU. In his recent interview with Echo Kavkaza, De Waal said receiving MAP will distance Georgia even more from its break-away regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

He believes MAP will results in more problems for the country and even intense pressure from Moscow, which will never accept Georgian membership in the alliance.

The expert hopes Georgia will put aside its plans on MAP and focus all its efforts on approaching the EU, which should result in increasing its role on the European map.