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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili
29 October 2013
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentleman,
It is a pleasure to welcome President Saakashvili to the European Commission.
Today we have discussed our bilateral relations which are prospering in the past years.
In particular, we have discussed the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, where we hope to initial an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area component, between the European Union and Georgia.
Let me say it clearly: the European Union intends to make the Vilnius Summit a success; a success that fully reflects Georgia's efforts to associate with the European Union.
This remarkable achievement will seal Georgia's political association and economic integration with the European Union.
But Vilnius will only be a staging post, albeit an important one. We need to think ahead on how to sustain Georgia's important achievements over time. And indeed, during President Saakashvili's term, Georgia has achieved a very remarkable progress. It is important now to be sure that this progress in Georgia, politically and economically, is further consolidated.
The European Union is determined to keep supporting Georgia in its strategic transformation and in moving forward with an agenda that embraces democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law. We believe this is the best way to ensure prosperity for all the Georgians. Our concern is precisely with the Georgian citizens, with the Georgian people, with the Republic of Georgia as a whole. We respect all the decisions made by the Georgian democracy. At the same time it is important that we are sure that we share basically the same values in this movement of bringing closer Georgia to Europe.
Reinforcing Georgia's democracy is of course a particular priority for us. It is vital that Georgia remains a pluralist democracy – and I assured President Saakashvili that we will remain vigilant, in particular through the work of the European Union's Special Adviser to Georgia, Mr Thomas Hammarberg.
We expect Georgia to honour its obligations, such as ensuring that the courts operate free of political influence. We are completely against any form of selective justice.
I also assured President Saakashvili that the European Union remains committed to Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
The European Union firmly condemns the erection of fences and barriers on Georgia's internal administrative boundaries, in breach of the 2008 ceasefire commitments. These have a directly negative impact on the local populations.
You are now leaving your office as President of Georgia and I believe we can say that Georgia is today a more stable democracy than before. We have seen this in last weekend's presidential election. The European Union has already congratulated the President-elect of Georgia Mr Guiorgui Margvelashvili, wishing every success in fulfilling this solemn responsibility.
In a moment when the term of President Saakashvili comes to an end, I would like to thank him for his public service and also his tireless work for the Georgian people, for Georgian sovereignty. I also thank his friendship to the European Union. I believe this was important for Georgia and European Union relationship.
We count on your party to continue to make a constructive contribution to Georgia's political debate while in opposition. Democracy is not just being in power, democracy is a responsibility, for the power and for the opposition. Democracy is about living together in the respect of the same common values.
And we wish you all the best, as we wish to the Georgian people, the authorities of Georgia, so that we can together achieve those very important objectives in the respect of the values that we believe we can share.