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Association Agreement ratified

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 21
It is a very rare case when parliament votes unanimously (123-0). Georgia’s Parliament ratified the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) on July 18.

The AA was signed in Brussels on July 27. The EU-Georgia Association Agreement consists of about 1,600 pages and is comprised of 8 titles which concern General Principles; Political Dialogue and Reform, Cooperation in the Field of Foreign and Security Policy; Justice, Freedom and Security; Economic Cooperation; Other Cooperation Policies; Trade and Trade-related Matters (DCFTA); Financial Assistance and Anti-Fraud and Control Provision, as well as Institutional, General and Final Provisions.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, among other foreign dignitaries, attended the ratification process.

Parliament Chair Davit Usupashvili was the first to congratulate those in attendance and the whole country on the ratification of the “historical” document. He was followed by a short speech by President Margvelashvili. Usupashvili explained later that through the legislation, the president does not require an invitation to such events. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili stated that the signing of the agreement marks a new stage for Georgia on its European integration.

“It is a challenging stage that requires hard work, selflessness, and solidarity from all of us; the Government, political parties, and society as a whole,” Gharibashvili said.

Fule shared the vision concerning the historical day for Georgia, stressing that the AA will be followed by more intensive international scrutiny. He emphasized that after the ratification, demands on Georgia will increase. At the end of the process, Georgia will increasingly resemble a EU-member state.

Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated that Georgia already has a three-year action plan on how to come closer to meeting EU standards in different fields. Majority MP Tina Khidasheli admitted that Georgians “should feel Europe in their minds and hearts.”

Assessments made by the parliamentary minority over the issue were positive. However, members of the United National Movement strongly criticized the government’s course and actions during the parliament hearing.

“Georgia’s internal political process stands far from European standards,” UNM MP Gigi Tsereteli said.

Fellow UNM MP Giorgi Kandelaki stressed that the 2003 Rose Revolution put Georgia back on the European track.

“Now, oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili is dismantling democracy in Georgia,” he said. The parliamentary opposition was speaking about opposition pursuit and political arrests in the country that, according to them, create serious threats for the country’s image.

Commenting on the ratification, Ambassador of the United States to Georgia, Richard Norland advised Georgia to focus on a future-oriented agenda that will enhance political stability, improve the investment climate, expand economic growth and create jobs.