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Association Agreement with EU signed

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, June 30
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and heads of the states and governments of the European Union member states signed the association agreement between Georgia and the EU on June 27. The ceremony took place in Brussels during the European Council meeting.

“Today Georgia is taking a big step towards free Europe…June 27 will be remembered as a historic and special day. There are dates in the history of each nation which they are proud of. Today a new big date is being written in the history of my homeland, which gives hope and which our future generations will be proud of. Many generations have spent their lives thinking about this day. And I am happy that it was honor of my generation to turn this dream of our ancestors into reality,” Georgian PM Gharibashvili said in his speech after the ceremony.

Later, speaking at the news conference, Gharibashvili said his country had made a huge step forward to EU membership and it will help Georgia make huge progress to achieve the final goal.

“It depends on the progress that we will make, but I can guarantee you that we will do our best to meet all the requirements of the European Union,” the PM stated.

European leaders once again emphasized in Brussels that July 27 marked a beginning of a new era in the relationship between Georgia and the EU.

“These are not just any other agreements, but milestones in the history of our relations and for Europe as a whole,” said Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, at the ceremony.

The Georgian side looks forward to receiving large benefits from the DCFTA, as the agreement is expected to help boost the country’s economy. The EU has decided to provide Georgia with financial assistance and start a new program worth 101 million EUR. The money will be allocated to fund projects for small and medium enterprises and to support reforms in the justice sector and the implementation of the DCFTA.

Signing the AA was celebrated in Tbilisi. A large crowd and high ranking officials gathered in downtown for a concert to celebrate the historic day.

Addressing the people, President Margvelashvili said that as a result of the hard work of the Parliament and government and the Georgian people the possibility to approach Europe was achieved.

“I want to thank our parliament for its work, I want to thank the government for its efforts – their work should be assessed positively and we should appreciate it. But I want to say the biggest thank you to the Georgian people, which has achieved all this, and to the spiritual leader of our country, His Holiness (Patriarch Ilia II) for giving us very correct accents on this path,” Margvelashvili told the crowd.

Chairman of the Parliament Davit Usupashvili congratulated the people with making a free choice to take a step forward to the European family.

Usupashvili said that Europe can be not so perfect but still it is the most secure place, where national identity is protected. Therefore, the Georgians should not fear that integration with the EU could endanger their national identity.

“We are a small nation and we are not worried that we are joining large Europe, because 13 out of 28 EU member states are smaller than Georgia and 9 out of 28 (member states) have population smaller than Georgia, but these very small nations, these countries found peace and favorable conditions for development in a united Europe,” Speaker said.

The 1135 page agreement, which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) is expected to be ratified by the Georgian parliament by the end of July and the provisional application of the AA could start by October 2014.