More Than 80% Of Our Population Support Georgia To Become A Part Of The European Family - PM
More than 80% of our population support this idea that Georgia must become a part of the European family. And this is not a choice of our Government. It is a civilizational choice of the Georgian people, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated during today's discussion panel Rethinking the EU's Partnership with Its Neighborhood held within the scope of the Economic Forum in Davos.
According to the Head of Government, everything will be done to make sure that Georgia gets closer to the EU and its ultimate goal of full EU membership.
"First of all, thank you very much for inviting us. This is a great opportunity to talk about Georgia's aspiration to become a member of the European Union. It is actually a great opportunity as because of COVID we did not have a chance to meet in person. So, this is a great opportunity and once again thank you for this. Well, secondly I want to say that, of course, Georgia has been a very reliable and loyal partner to the European Union. This is a choice of our people. It does not belong only to the Georgian Government, but it is a choice - I would say that it is a civilizational choice - of the Georgian people. And we have been very loyal - we have been dedicated - partners to the European Union, because we share the same values, same principles. In 2014 we signed the Association Agreement. This is the main document. This is a roadmap for our ultimate goal, which is the fully-fledged EU membership. Since then, of course, we have had a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and some tangible results, such as the Visa-Free Regime, which is also very important to the Georgian citizens. And of course, just recently we submitted the official Application for EU Membership. To respond to your question I would say that whatever brings us closer to the European Union and the EU Membership is, of course, acceptable to us, because we have no other alternative. As I said this is the choice of Georgian people and we would do whatever we can - we will do the maximum - in order to get closer to the European Union, to get closer to the ultimate goal, which is the fully-fledged membership of the European Union," Irakli Garibashvili said.
According to the Head of Government, more than 80% of our population support this idea that Georgia must become a part of the European family, and this is not a choice of the Government alone.
"We have fulfilled 45%. More than 45% of the Association Agreement has already been fulfilled. We have embarked on a very ambitious reform agenda since 2014. We have been doing lots of improvements in every direction, whether this is rule of law, judicial reforms or open government. In every direction we have made huge progress. We have tangible progress and people see it. So, now the question is whether we raise this expectation and tell our people that Georgia will get this - as it was said, symbolic - let's say, political declaration and acknowledgement that Georgia is part of this European family or we should explain to them that this is not the right time, maybe we should consider it later or... We need to see action now and today, because as it was mentioned it is a different world today. What has happened in Ukraine is not a challenge only to Ukrainian security. This is a challenge to the entire European security architecture. And I want to remind you about the war we had in 2008. At that time - I have to mention - regrettably we did not see the unity that is today. We welcome this unity. This is great! It is a very strong reaction of the entire world - the civilized world - but we Georgians paid a very high price since we regained our independence. We had two wars in the 90's when we regained our independence - one in Abkhazia and in Ossetia - and in 2008 a large-scale war with Russia. And the result of this war is an occupation of our historic territories. We understand the concerns that are in the European Union, because as the Minister mentioned that they do not want to import these problems into the European family, but we also understand that granting a candidacy status does not mean giving a membership, right? Still, it is a long process, as mentioned by the President of Estonia. It is a long process. We understand that and we have our homework, which is the Association Agreement. So, that's my point, but we need clarity. And we need an adequate and relevant reaction from the European Union," Irakli Garibashvili stated.
The Head of Government concluded his remarks at the panel discussion by quoting Mikheil Muskhelishvili.
"In closure, I also want to quote a famous Georgian scientist and co-author of the European Constitution. Mr. Mikheil Muskhelishvili (aka Michel Mouskhely) said "Georgia knows that it belongs to Europe. Now Europe should make conclusions. That is my last comment," Irakli Garibashvili concluded.
Together with the Prime Minister of Georgia, the panel discussion's participants included the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Natalia Gavrilița, the President of the Republic of Estonia, Alar Karis, and the Federal Minister of European and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg. The panel discussions were moderated by Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Brussels Bureau Chief for The New York Times.