Georgia boosts cooperation with EU
Georgian Delegation, led by Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and EU Commissioners, headed by President of European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, discussed increasing and enhancing cooperation between Georgia and European Union at the inaugural high-level meeting in Brussels on 21 November.
With discussions taking place across the whole spectrum of EU-Georgia relations, the European Commission and the Government of Georgia have agreed to further solidify and enhance cooperation, notably through more than 25 concrete actions across three focus areas, which will advance cooperation within the framework of the Association Agreement.
During the meeting held in an extended format and thematic sessions in 1. Economy, trade and communications; 2. Education, science, innovations and culture; 3. Justice and internal security, civil defense, the sides discussed the ongoing developments both in Georgia and the EU. Special accent was placed on peaceful resolution of the conflict and enhancement of the EU’s role in this regard, including through the support of the Georgian Government’s peace initiatives.
Among the key outcomes of the meeting include €3.4 billion for transport investment projects, €100 million of additional access to finance in local currency for SMEs, support for additional academic and scientific exchanges, and a new programme to increase the security of Georgian citizens. Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, also signed two financing agreements with the Georgian Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani. The first, worth €49 million, will further enhance economic and business development in Georgia, while the other, worth nearly €48 million, will support skills development in Georgia to match labour market needs.
The President of European Commission welcomed Georgia’s comprehensive reforms and efforts towards modernization and democratic development: “Today is another very special milestone in our partnership”, said President Jean-Claude Juncker. “Georgia is a proud country, built on the courage and ambition of its people. Georgia’s commitment and desire to step-up its cooperation with the European Union shows that our relationship is a priority; today, we have agreed on many ways in which we as the European Commission can return this commitment, in concrete terms. The more Georgia reforms, the more we will support. You can count on the European Union to believe in Georgia’s future, and to firmly defend its territorial integrity.”
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze noted that “this exceptional format” of EU-Georgia cooperation will “render concrete incentives and showcase Georgia as a major success story of the European integration in our neighborhood.” “In fact, European integration has been one of the major drivers for development of Georgia; this is due to Georgia’s choice to be part of European family,” Bakhtadze said, stressing that the country’s “commitment to this track remains as strong as ever.” He also underscored that this meeting will “substantially expand” EU-Georgia cooperation in various sectors and “generate more functional links.” “It will help us towards achieving gradually the maximum possible level of convergence with the European Union. This is precisely the idea behind our initiative to develop the roadmap to EU,” Georgian Prime Minister said.
“Georgia is recognized as a leading country and an example of success in the format of Eastern Partnership because of a number of reasons. Georgia has really achieved a relevant progress. The Georgian people has always supported and respected the democracy, freedom and progress. The tasks which have been set by our country in these three directions, would have been hardly achievable without the assistance of the European Union and the format of Eastern Partnership. Many people think that Georgia’s membership in the EU is an illusion, a dream but this dream is bringing my country to the progress and is making Georgia much more free, is giving us energy and force in order to transform this dream into the reality,” — stated the Georgian Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani while delivering a speech at the Committee of Foreign Relations of the European Parliament where along with other issues, the Minister widely spoke about the progress of Georgia’s European Integration and the high level dialogue.