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Georgia reaffirms its European course

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, November 19
The European Union is committed to the shared objective of visa-free travel for Georgia’s citizens provided the country meets the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility in line with its Action Plan on Visa Liberalization. At a meeting in the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, EU foreign ministers welcomed the commission’s second progress report of October 29 on the implementation of the Action Plan (AP).

The ministers also welcomed “the commission’s assessment on possible migratory and security impacts on the EU of the future visa liberalization for Georgia,” the council conclusions said, and underlined its importance for the implementation of the AP.

The ministers said that Georgia has fulfilled all the benchmarks under the first phase of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization.

The council invited the commission to continue supporting Georgia in implementing the Action Plan, as well as to continue reporting on the process, in particular by “updating the possible migratory and security impact, with a view to deciding on the fulfillment of all the benchmarks of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization."

The partnership between the European Union and Georgia is strong, and it will become even stronger in the coming years, the European Union's new Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday at a press conference with Georgian Prime Minster Irakli Gharibashvili in Brussels.

“The EU-Georgia Association Agreement, which we signed in June of this year, has raised our relationship to a new level. The agreement has been applied provisionally since September, allowing us to move ahead with deeper political association and economic integration. As a result, Georgia will transform itself and move closer to the EU,” she said.

Mogherini praised the progress of Georgia in the Visa Liberalization Action Plan, successful Parliamentary and Presidential elections, the adoption of the National Strategy on Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination legislation, as well as the establishment of the Human Rights Council. She underlined the need to continue judicial reforms and to "assure the rule of law”.

The EU high representative also shared the EU's concerns regarding the latest developments in Georgia’s breakaway regions and reconfirmed the EU's support for Georgia's territorial integrity.

Georgia's Prime Minister confirmed the readiness of his government to continue implementing the AA agenda and emphasized that Georgia will move much further ahead in this field by next year's Riga Summit.

"The Association Agreement in not the final goal in our cooperation. I have the ambition to make my country a success story in the region,” Garibashvili said, adding that the AA is the essential base to building a truly European, stable and functional pluralist democracy with effective checks, balances and strong democratic institutions.

Majority MPs welcomed the prime minister’s statements made in Brussels. The opposition United National Movement representatives recognized that the current speeches were “adequate.” However, minority member Gia Baramidze stated that in many cases the current government’s statements and actions do not match. However analyst Kakha Gogolashvili also assessed the prime minister’s current statements as “logical and adequate.” He stressed that it appears the Georgian government re-checked its international rhetoric.

The first ever EU-Georgia Association Council meeting has been held in Brussels. The council is the highest formal institution established under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement to supervise the implementation of the agreement.