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Tbilisi, 11 July 2013
Remarks by Commissioner Štefan Füle following the meeting with Bidzina Ivanishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia
I am delighted to be here to attend the annual Batumi conference, which has become a very important part of the calendar for me. Its focus on the preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit in November in Vilnius is an additional proof of the accelerating pace of our engagement.
We had a very frank and productive meeting with the Prime Minister. We discussed the busy agenda of our bilateral links and the Eastern Partnership dimension, and progress in the negotiations for an EU-Georgia Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. We both hope to be able to finalise and initialize these at the Vilnius Summit. This agreement brings out a closer political association and economic integration with the European Union, with many concrete benefits for Georgia’s citizens right across the country.
The run-up to the Vilnius summit is also a crucial phase when Georgia is expected to demonstrate its genuine commitment to the European path. I stressed to the Prime Minister the importance of basing our engagement on shared values. These include a profound respect for democratic principles and the rule of law, respecting due process.
In this context, I stressed the importance the EU attaches to constructive cohabitation and cooperation between the various branches of power.
I appreciate the constructive approach taken by the Parliament across partisan divides. Much has been achieved: a constitutional reform, a shared understanding of a foreign policy course, significant steps in deepening a judicial reform.
But we still need to see further strengthening of Georgia's democratic institutions, promoting political pluralism and media freedom.
I have also stressed the importance of ensuring that justice is fair and free of any political interference. I welcome the Georgian government's commitment to ensure that criminal prosecutions will be transparent and fully respecting due process. It is important that this commitment be reflected in the public statements of politicians, and in their actions. This includes a profound respect for the presumption of innocence, but of course not allowing impunity either.
We respect the wish of the Georgian people to address any legacies of past abuse, and we trust that this will be done in full conformity with Georgia's international obligations and European values.