Georgia and the European Union
By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 16
Georgia successfully passed yet another exam on its way to Euro-Atlantic integration. High ranking EU officials have reminded Georgian authorities multiple times that creating a tradition of fair transparent elections is yet more proof to justify its ambition to join the EU.
The next step for Georgia is signing the Association Agreement (AA) on June 27th. Certainly, it is a bit early to assess the actual benefits of the agreement, but at least this goal shall be achieved and in the future Georgia will formalize its place on the European map. Slowly but steadily Georgia is going through multiple obstacles towards its secret dream to return to the unity of the European Nations. Hoping it will bring welfare, prosperity, success and peace to the tiny country on the outskirts of Europe, to a country which suffered a lot throughout its dramatic history and which deserves to finally achieve peace.
After regaining its independence in 1991, Georgia has been trying to cooperate with different international organizations. First it was recognized by the UN and became its member. This was followed by joining the Council of Europe. Different international organizations like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other similar bodies also accepted Georgia as a member. The country took many efforts to qualify for the WTO before finally joining it and for many years it was the only country blocking Russia from joining because of Moscow’s aggressive military policy against its neighbor.
Georgia’s concern about Russia was true. The recent events in Ukraine once again proved that Russia remains an aggressive militarist nation and the world community will have to make much effort to keep Moscow in check. Nevertheless, the WTO governing bodies and many big players like the U.S and others insisted and in fact forced Georgia to give up blocking Russia. Eventually they achieved it, Georgia voted in favor and Russia joined the WTO.
Some analysts here in Georgia have expressed their skepticism concerning the countries membership of WTO. The membership of this organization gave the right to its member countries to enter the Georgian market with lots of advantages. In fact, it has become more profitable for the traders to import many products into Georgia. For instance, a large variety of vegetables and fruits have appeared in Georgian markets often defeating local production.
Georgia was satisfying its demand for potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables, now Turkish and Iranian products can be seen taking over the market as a cheaper alternative to the same products of the local products.
The experts acknowledge one major advantage of the Georgia is that it produces organic fruits and vegetables. While the quality of the products that Georgia imports are debatable.
Signing the EU agreement should create equal rights for Georgian products on the European market. Will the opening of a large European market lead to directing Georgian organic food to Europe and will the vacuum be filled by the products imported from neighboring countries? Considering that quality control service in Georgian has been poor so far, the flow of new food products into the Georgia market can be a serious problem for the population.
Recently eggs produced in Turkey and Moldova entered the Georgian market. It is strange enough, but the eggs are of a lesser quality, and they are sold at the same price as the eggs produced by a number of Georgian companies, or even a bit cheaper.
It should be mentioned that Georgia has to look better for itself. It should establish and activate very strict quality control services to make sure that the quality of imported products is at least the same as the quality of products for export. There is yet another concern: will the price for Georgian apples sold in Europe be the same as it is in Georgia? Will this be accepted by the European business representatives, or will the prices match the price of the same product in the European countries? Georgians are still happy to join the European structures and provided European standards and quality control and other regulations will also come to Georgia.