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Tbilisi, 04 February 2014
Message of EU support for Georgia
During his visit to Georgia Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze. This is what he said to the media following the meeting:
Am glad to be here, although I am sorry I had to delay my arrival by one day because of the extraordinary session of Foreign Ministers of the Member States on Ukraine,
After this meeting with Foreign Minister Panjikidze I will have a number of other meetings – with government, the President, opposition and civil society. I will also have the honour to meet your Patriarch Ilia II.
In all these meetings, there is one main message: message of EU support for Georgia.
While the international community looks on with increasing concern at events in Crimea, let us remember that Russia's behaviour here in Georgia is also a matter for serious concern. Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty continues to be challenged by Russia, including by the construction of barriers and military installations which hinder free movement between people who used to enjoy close relations.
We must not lose focus on this while our attention is grabbed by events further west. Here, too, Russia must abide by international law and respect the sovereignty of its neighbour, Georgia.
The EU has already unique relationship with Georgia. And it will be elevated to a new level this year. The signature of the Association Agreement, including the DCFTA, will bring Georgia and its people closer to the European Union, to our values, standards and markets. And I am here to stress the highest political importance which the Member States attach to concluding the Association Agreement, including DCFTA with Georgia.
I will be speaking about the benefits of the Association Agreement for Georgian citizens in more details publically later this afternoon, but let me briefly stress this:
Although the Association Agreement does not provide for miracles overnight, it will pave the way for modernization of the state, society and the economy. So what does it bring in concrete terms?
1) for the state and its citizens: it will reinforce the rule of law and consolidate democratic institutions, provide higher guarantees for rights and freedoms.
2) for the economy, businesses as well as employees: it is an investment in Georgia's future: it will attract investments, create jobs, and stimulate growth. The GDP is expected to grow, trade volume will be boosted and real wages increased.
3) for the consumers: it brings improvements to the quality of life, greater variety of goods, competitive prices and higher standards in health and environmental safety.
For all this to happen, continued work on reforms is essential. We expect Georgia to continue to demonstrate its commitment to our shared democratic values, pluralism and the non-politicisation of justice.
The tasks and challenges ahead are not easy. We are very well aware of the pressure that was brought on Ukraine because of its willingness to sign the AA. We know that this pressure also exists elsewhere in the Eastern Partnership. The EU will stand firmly by Georgia should it too experience any kind of pressure.
As I have said, I will meet the Patriarch of Georgia. I will assure him, on behalf of the EU, that we have no intention to undermine Georgia's traditional values. Because what we promote, are the universal values of tolerance, dignity, and respect.'