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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Remarks by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia

Press point

Brussels, 3 February 2014

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentleman,

I am pleased to welcome Prime Minister Gharibashvili on his first official visit to Brussels in that capacity.

As you know, last November, at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, we initialled an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with Georgia. This step fully reflects Georgia’s determination to European values and European integration for which I commend Prime Minister's and previous governments.

We need now to have this Agreement signed to seal this historical development for our bilateral relations. We are committed to do it still during the term of this Commission.

After having launched this process in Prague five years ago, I am very glad to see the process in the relationship with Georgia, a process which is coming to fruition through these important agreements.

At the same time, it is crucial to sustain Georgia's important achievements towards good governance, strong political institutions and effective policies to promote economic growth. I particularly welcome Georgia's 2020 strategy for economic development and relevant reforms for our Visa Liberalisation Dialogue.

In the context of the major changes that have taken place recently in Georgian politics - a new President, a new Prime Minister, and a new Constitution – I have urged Prime Minister Gharibashvili to continue to pay careful attention to defending political pluralism and media freedom, the hallmarks of a healthy and pluralist democracy.

I particularly emphasised the importance of ensuring that criminal prosecutions are evidence-based, transparent, free of political motivation, impartial, and fully in line with democratic values.

Today we also reviewed the achievements in human rights and fundamental freedoms. Human rights, in particular the rights of minorities are vital and have to be taken as a priority.

We also talked about the most recent developments in conflict resolution in Georgia. I very much welcome the continuing diplomatic contacts between Georgia and the Russian Federation as an important way to assure stability and security for the region.

I expressed my concerns at the ongoing erection of fences and barriers on Georgia's internal administrative boundaries, which have a direct negative impact on the local populations. We remain committed to the country's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

As I said to the Prime Minister, we are keen to support conflict resolution in Georgia, including through our co-chairmanship of the Geneva International Talks and our Monitoring Mission in Georgia.

Prime Minister Gharibashvili,

Your government enjoys solid democratic legitimacy after two impressive election victories. It has continued Georgia's reform path and European integration process with determination. I am thus confident in the future of our relations and in Georgia's European path.

Thank you for your attention.

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