the State Minister of Georgia on European & Euro-Atlantic Integration

UntitledInterview with the State Minister of Georgia on European & Euro-Atlantic Integration

ENIGMMA Q1:  Georgia has recently signed an Association Agreement with the European Union that is considered to be a significant step forward in EU-Georgia cooperation. How would you assess progress of Georgia’s European Integration?

In recent years, Georgia has made significant steps towards further deepening of cooperation with the European Union (EU). As you are aware, the Association Agreement with the EU, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) component was signed on June 27, in Brussels. The Parliament of Georgia has already ratified the Agreement. The ratification process is ongoing in the EU member countries, and we hope that this process will be finalized soon. It should be noted that significant part of the Association Agreement provisions, including DCFTA, entered into force on 1st September. On 3rd September, the Government of Georgia has approved and successfully fulfills the 2014 National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Association Agreement. The Action Plan has replaced the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan. At this stage, we have elaborated the AA implementation Action plan for 2015, which is much more comprehensive document encompassing implementation of the DCFTA as well. It should be stressed that for purpose of monitoring of implementation process of the Association Agreement – the Association Council, the Association Committee and thematic sub-committees, as well as the Parliament Association Committee is being created. We make sure that the Civil Society Platform is also involved in elaboration, as well as in monitoring of the AA implementation process. We are also successfully implementing reforms in the framework of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP). The first – legislative phase has already been finalized and we have already started the second – implementation phase of the VLAP.

ENIGMMA Q2:  How the Association Agenda will facilitate and support implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement?

A structure of the Association Agenda is based on the Association Agreement. The document is focused on more specific areas of cooperation. It defines basic political, economic and trade priorities, which should be fulfilled in 2014-2016 with support of the EU. The three-year Association Agenda aims to promote process of implementation of the Association Agreement which will envisage political association and gradual economic integration with the EU.

ENIGMMA Q3:  What are the main priorities of cooperation in the field of migration which are underlined in the Association Agreement and Agenda?

 The Association Agenda includes migration-related legislation approximation with the EU aquis in areas of migration and asylum policy, effective border management, fight against organized crime, human trafficking, money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as in tackling illicit drugs. In addition, Georgia, together with the EU Member States, conducts joint, permanent and active information campaigns in order to raise awareness of population of Georgia on migration issues.

ENIGMMA Q4:  What is to be expected next from this significant step in EU-Georgia relations development?

It should to be noted, that effective implementation of the Association Agreement will have a major positive impact on strengthening of Georgia`s European identity, irreversibility of the European integration process and political support from our European partners, including support of Georgia`s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The DCFTA with the EU will significantly enhance economic relations, attract foreign investments, stimulate economic growth and support Georgia`s integration in the European economic area in general. Moreover, the Association Agreement envisages further deepening of the political dialogue with the EU.

Furthermore, benefits of the Association Agreement with the EU will largely depend on political and economic stability and security of the country and the region as a whole. The EU plays a crucial role in ensuring Georgia`s security and territorial integrity. Hopefully, involvement of the EU in settlement of the Russia-Georgia conflict will be reinforced including through strengthening the mandate of the EU Monitoring Mission. It is especially important against the background of recently signed Agreement between the Russian Federation and the breakaway region of Georgia, Abkhazia on alliance and strategic partnership.

At the same, Georgia is a partner of the EU in Common and Security and Defence Policy actively contributing to the international security, including through participation in the EU`s peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

At this stage, we are actively preparing for the “Eastern Partnership” Summit to be held in Riga in May 2015. We hope that it will be a historical Summit, where we will receive clear message on Georgia`s European perspective as well as positive assessment on implementation of reforms envisaged by the Visa Liberalization Action Plan.