Ambassador to EU says distance has been reduced between EU, Georgia

Georgia and the EU are closer not only politically and economically, but actually physically and socially, -e Ambassador of Georgia to the EU Natalia Sabanidze said in her interview with the euractiv.

In a wide-ranging interview, the Ambassador of Georgia to the EU talked about the lessons learned from 10 years of Eastern Partnership.

“I think we have something to celebrate. For Georgia, the Eastern Partnership has meant quite a lot. First of all, I think it was considered as a really bold, visionary and political initiative. And I think it should stay this way.

And what it meant for us, is first and foremost, the shrinking of distance. Ten years ago, we were nowhere compared to where we are now…

May 2009 was less than one year after the Russo-Georgian War…

Exactly. And that’s is why what I say is political, because it was a response to some of the difficult geopolitical events that were going on in the region. And this was both.

We are closer not only politically and economically, but actually physically and socially. All the connectivity projects, people-to-people ideas come into place. Then, of course, it’s the broadest association agreement, which is political approximation and economic integration. But in real terms, it also means that for us it is about a political choice. And no matter what others say, this is a political choice that we have made on our own will, it has not been imposed by anyone. It’s done consciously. And it’s done for us and not against anyone.

This association agreement I often say is probably the most tangible manifestation of the political choice that has been made by Georgia. Actually, for all six countries. The EaP brought all the six countries closer to the EU, from their own starting positions, according to their plans and initiatives and ambitions”, the Ambassador said.

She also touched upon the Russian occupation. According to her, the war started and ended in 2008, but the aggression never stopped. “It continues, and Georgia and the population that lives in the occupied regions are the constant victims of this aggression”, she said.

“Accepting this kind of outcome is bad, not only for us and our security, but it is of course bad for the international order which is based on norms and principles, because that sets a very bad precedent, also for Ukraine. What happened in Ukraine is not a new thing, it’s a pattern that is being repeated. And we should be wary of setting bad precedents, just because we can’t solve it, because there is a big power against it. If we can’t solve it, that does not mean that we should accept it. The way to signal this is by rejecting it and keeping it high on the agenda, reminding those who are responsible and those who are in control of these territories. It’s not a new reality, as they say, that needs to be accepted, it’s abnormal, it needs to be solved. And it needs to be solved through a negotiated solution”, the Ambassador said.