Viktor Kipiani - The EU regards Georgia as a key partner in the region and underlines that Georgia actively participates in the Eastern Partnership multilateral architecture

Interview on Georgia-EU relations with Viktor Kipiani, the Chair of Geocase

- In Munich the Foreign Ministers of Associated countries of Eastern Partnership signed a joint statement concerning boosting of support in the implementation of the Associated Agreements by the European Union in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

How do you evaluate the abovementioned statement?

The joint statement of Associated countries of Eastern Partnership is important in the context of ongoing negotiations about the approval of a financial framework agreement on the budget for 2021- 2027. The Associated countries of Eastern Partnership underlined that the support for the implementation of the Associated Agreements should be appropriately reflected in the EU budget. Additional financial resources are significant for effective implementation of obligations under the Association and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements. Overall, the successful performance of these obligations will enhance the process of European integration.

The Foreign Ministers of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova believe that the European Union remains the key player in maintaining stability and development in the world. The EU is a strategic partner for Georgia in terms of enhancing democracy and economic development. The participant countries of Eastern Partnership have different level of readiness towards European integration. The statement of Associated countries is indicative of this circumstance.

- You mentioned that the effective performance of obligations under the Association Agreement will enhance the process of European integration. How do you assess the dynamics of implementation of Association Agreement?

In this context, it is essential to analyze the Association Implementation Report on Georgia. The recent report says: “The EU regards Georgia as a key partner in the region. Georgia continues to be fully committed to and actively participates in the Eastern Partnership multilateral architecture.” The report emphasizes that civil society remains very active in monitoring the implementation of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). The document pays attention to the ongoing reforms at the legislative and executive levels. It highlights that the Parliament of Georgia adopted amendments to establish the new National Security Council, an advisory body to the Prime Minister. The report also emphasizes that the Government adopted a 2019-2020 action plan to implement the public administration reform roadmap for 2020. The document calls attention to security challenges emerged in the occupied territories. The EU continues to firmly support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The report underlines Georgia’s contribution to the EU missions. It focuses on ongoing legislative reforms in the fields of competition, public procurement, intellectual property, judiciary. Georgia’s efforts in the area of the digital economy and society are positively viewed in the report. In the regional development context, the document says that the Government developed a decentralization strategy for 2019-2025, with the intention of devolving more functions and financial resources to local authorities. However, it is significant to continue reforms in order to be closer to the EU and achieve European perspective. The challenges, that are mentioned in the document, can be overcome only in the close cooperation with the European institutions and through consideration of their recommendations.

- You talked about Georgia’s European perspective. In your opinion, to what extent is it difficult for Georgia to become a member state of the EU?

-The EU is different from other regional international organizations with its legal nature. It has multilateral dimensions. Therefore, membership in the EU demands to implement various reforms. We need to continue our efforts to enhance democratic institutions, to take appropriate measures with the intention of using benefits of trading in the European Union based on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and to implement legislative reforms for the legal approximation of Georgian legislation to the EU acquis. By using relevant procedures, this process will give us the opportunity to convince partners that we can meet political, economic and legal criteria of European integration. In this process, Georgia should meet the EU expectations, which serves Georgia’s national interests because in doing so Georgia establishes itself as a competitive international actor in long-term perspective.

Simultaneously, the issues of Georgia-EU agenda should be annually analyzed. On February 17, 2020, the representatives of legislative and executive branches met with the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Georgia within “Ambassadorial Chat”. This event was organized by Geocase. The parties discussed priorities of Georgia-EU relations.

The continuity and effective implementation of reforms will be the precondition to overcome challenges on the European integration path.

- How do you evaluate the role of Eastern Partnership in the context of European integration. Furthermore, within this framework, Georgia signed the Association Agreement. Also, visa liberalization came into effect for Georgian citizens allowing them to travel to the Schengen zone for a short stay without a visa.

The Eastern Partnership is not an instrument for membership in the European Union. It is a dimension of the European Neighborhood policy. Six Eastern European partners: Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan are involved in the format. The Eastern Partnership aims to develop cooperation with these countries and promote their democratic and economic development. However, effective implementation of reforms within the Association and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements will assist us to be prepared for the procedures of the EU membership.

The Eastern Partnership framework will provide the effective assistance to Georgia to enhance democratic institutions, to continue reforms in the judicial system and promote economic development in the future. Overall, it should bring prosperity to Georgian citizens.

“Interpressnews”

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