On January 23, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia spoke of perspectives of cooperation with the European Union at the panel discussion “New Ambitions for Europe,” on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting, held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on January 21-24.
PM Gakharia stressed that Georgia is the leader of the Eastern Partnership, adding that his country’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations are “the choice of our citizens.” Georgian PM noted that for the last five years, Georgia has “real and very tangible achievements” on its European integration path, such as the free trade agreement, as well as the visa-free regime with the EU.
However, Gakharia said, the country has “some challenges” in the areas of security and economy as well. Referring to economy, he said, the challenge is “how to translate these achievements and this legal framework in real benefit for our citizens.”
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“We consider Georgia as a gateway for Europe to Central Asia, and when we are talking about the economic policy, we consider [the] country as a platform, serving the trade flows between big economies,” he said, adding that “we fully realize and understand that the investments in Georgian economy mean the security of our country.”
Speaking of security, PM Gakharia mentioned “problems” of the Black Sea, noting that the issue “is the top priority” not only for Georgia, but for NATO as well.
“When we are talking about how we see the future of relations between Europe and Georgia, we understand that we can play our very important role, first of all, in security. When we are talking on security, we mean cooperation on the Black Sea security, and after Crimea story, we understand how important is everything connected to security in the Black Sea,” Georgian PM underlined.
Speaking of economy, Georgian Prime Minister also said “we need more cooperation with EU and for this we need to be more focused on connectivity,” adding that “when you have a strong legal framework as DCFTA, but do not have land border with the EU, it creates the real problems and this is the real challenge you have to solve.”
He then said “we fully realize that there is no political readiness at this moment [in the EU] to discuss real political issues, such as membership… But from our side, we are ready to do our homework and we see that this is the chance for our nation to be closer to the EU.” He stressed that “for us, only membership in [the] European Union as well as in NATO, this is only one guarantee to security of our country.”
In his remarks, Giorgi Gakharia also discussed Russian occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Regions. He said “we all remember that 20% of our country is occupied by Russia. And this is what our citizens are facing day after day.” Georgian PM then stressed that “the Georgian Government is committed to only peaceful resolution of the conflict.”
He concluded that “deepening the strategic partnership with our friends, the United States and the European Union, this is only one way how can we survive in this very challenging region.”
Attended the opening ceremony of the 50th Annual Meeting of the #WEF20 today in @Davos, Switzerland. #Georgia is joining discussions on ways we can work together to deliver a better and more sustainable future for our citizens. pic.twitter.com/831aqUAzFi
— Giorgi Gakharia (@GakhariaGiorgi) January 21, 2020
In Davos, Prime Minister Gakharia held series of meetings with political leaders on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, including Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Latvia and Lithuania, Armen Sarkissian, Ilham Aliyev, Egils Levits and Gitanas Nausėda, respectively, as well as his Bulgarian, Croatian, Estonian and Slovenian counterparts Boyko Borissov, Andrej Plenković, Jüri Ratas and Marjan Šarec, respectively.
The Georgian PM’s also met with business executives from the Acciona Energy, Camille Bloch, Citigroup Inc., Coca-Cola, ENEL, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), OneWeb, Siemens Energy, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).