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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia
Brussels, 17 November 2010
I am very pleased to welcome President Saakashvili back to Brussels. We had a good meeting in New York last September and these meetings are a sign of our continued engagement with Georgia. I really appreciated the atmosphere and the exchange during our meeting.
As you know the he European Union has a very strong strategic interest in stability, prosperity and democracy in our eastern neighbourhood. Georgia is a very important partner in this region.
I would like to commend President Saakashvili on a number of achievements during recent years in bringing forward an agenda of political and economic reforms.
We encourage the Georgian authorities to continue with these efforts to increase political pluralism and consolidate democratic institutions.
Our bilateral relations are progressing well and at a good pace. We have launched negotiations on an Association Agreement with Georgia in July, which should also include a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) that would allow Georgia to access the EU Single Market. Significant progress has been achieved on legislative and regulatory measures but we believe more efforts are needed on their implementation. The timing of the opening of negotiations for a DCFTA is very much in the hands of our Georgian counterparts. And I count on their determination to begin quickly. We had a very open exchange on this.
We have also signed a Visa Facilitation Agreement in June. It will enter into force together with the readmission agreement which we expect to sign shortly. We understand the importance of this major step for the Georgia's citizens as it will bring them closer to the European Union.
Concerning the diversification of energy sources and routes, the development of the Southern corridor is a key priority for the European Union. We attached great importance to the crucial transit role played by Georgia. And I encourage Georgia to formally apply for membership to the Energy Community. This would enable a further deepening of our relations and reinforce Georgia's attractiveness for energy investments.
I also made clear to President Saakashvili that the European Union fully supports the security, stability and sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. We expect the entire international community to do so as well. The Commission will continue to implement the post-war assistance package of €483.5 million, of which around 97% is already committed.
The EU is also active, as a co-chair (with the UN and OSCE) in the Geneva discussions where we are working with all the parties concerned for the security and stability of the region.
We are also the only organization present on the ground with a monitoring Mission (EUMM) whose mandate has just been extended for another year.
I think we have made good progress today and we will keep our regular dialogue on the key issues facing Georgia.
I would like to thank once again President Saakashvili for the very open discussion that we had on issues that are of major for Georgia and for the European Union.