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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso following the meeting between the European Commission and the Government of Georgia
Brussels, 21 May 2014
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today's meeting reflects the unique relationship between the EU and Georgia. It concludes an unprecedented series of meetings which started last week with the visits of the governments of Ukraine and of the Republic of Moldova.
My message after the very useful, constructive, friendly and open discussion with Prime Minister Garibashvili and his ministers is very clear:
The European Commission stands by Georgia. We stand by a democratic, prosperous, united and stable Georgia. And the EU is firmly committed to political association and economic integration with Georgia.
The signature of our Association Agreement - and the related Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area - in about a month will be a landmark in the EU-Georgia bilateral relation.
The Association Agreement is an investment in the future which will bring real benefits to all parts of the Georgian society. It will transform the economy, open up markets, create a better business environment and provide the economic means to build a prosperous future for all Georgian citizens.
Georgia was a frontrunner in establishing a multi-party democracy and promoting market reforms amongst our Eastern partners. During our meeting I have expressed to the Prime Minister the European Commission's support for Georgia's programme of key political, judicial and economic reforms. Respecting the rule of law, avoiding selective justice and guaranteeing the necessary political space for all parties and civil society are all key elements of a modern and prosperous state.
The Prime Minister gave me his personal commitment on this matters about what has been done and his determination to further go on this reform path.
On Georgia's path towards reform, EU support has been and will continue to be available.
The EU is in fact the single most important provider of assistance. Between 2007 and 2013, EU assistance to Georgia amounted to over €450 million. And we are currently finalising our assistance priorities for 2014-2017.
Let me in particular mention the €30 million package of support announced by the European Commission earlier this month – a package to help modernise public institutions linked to the implementation of the Association Agreement.
Another expression of EU's support is the Financing Agreement the Prime Minister and I just signed. Worth €19 million, it will aim at achieving better governance of Georgia's main institutions, improved business and investment climate and economic development.
In our discussions today, the European Commission has reaffirmed its support for Georgia's territorial integrity and the EU's continued commitment to stabilisation and conflict resolution efforts in Georgia.
We have also addressed the general situation in the region, with particular reference to Ukraine and the key presidential elections on 25 May. Free and fair presidential elections in Ukraine on 25 May are of great importance for the stabilisation of Ukraine, and also for the stability in the region, and we expect that everyone will respect those elections.
Thank you again for a very useful and constructive meeting. We will be seeing each other in the next weeks!
I will be visiting Georgia in June, responding to a very kind invitation of the Prime Minister. I will not only meet the authorities, but I will also participate in our first Investment Conference. This event will focus on business and investment in Georgia, an area where our Association Agreement is expected to bring the biggest long-term economic benefits. This is important for the business community in Georgia, for the business community in Europe and also for other businesses that are interested in the very interesting possibilities of growth of Georgia in the future.
I hope to also see you shortly after my visit to Georgia in the June European Council for the final signature of the Association Agreement to seal Georgia's European path, because we believe in the European perspective of your country.