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President Zurabishvili Talks EU, NATO Integration, Occupied Territories

In an interview with French journal Revue Défense, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili discussed Georgia’s Russian occupied territories and  European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, asserting that “for Georgia, there is no alternative to the European Union.”

“Georgia has always been a European state and European integration is a return to our large European family, from which the Soviet occupation separated us,” President Zurabishvili highlighted in the October 6 interview.

Georgian President acknowledged “that now may not be the appropriate time for Brussels to make a decision on new candidates,” yet pledged to “knock on every door and leave no stones unturned” to achieve sectoral integration into the EU in the meantime. 

Noting that Georgia benefits from the Association Agreement, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, as well as visa-free travel with the 27-member bloc, President Zurabishvili underscored that “we are completely ready for the next step.”

Regarding NATO, the President said that “each poll shows that at least 70% of Georgians, from all political backgrounds, support our integration into NATO.”

She stated that Georgia is one of the largest contributors to the Alliance’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, as well as one of NATO’s closest and most trusted allies.

Recalling North Macedonia’s accession to NATO, President Zurabishvili highlighted that there is still “a desire to enlarge the Alliance,” with Georgia being in a privileged position due to meeting with NATO’s military spending standards and continued renewal of military capabilities. “Georgia has never been closer to NATO,” she asserted.

Speaking of the situation in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, President Zurabishvili said that “it is hard to call this conflict frozen when we see the situation on the ground.” She noted that as a result of the “uneven and tragic” August 2008 war, Georgians still face human rights violations, “borderization” and wide-scale occupation.

“However, Russia could not achieve its main objective, it could not divert Georgia from its path towards the West. Georgia has proved its resilience, which has molded its identity throughout centuries, which we are proud of,” the President underscored.

President Zurabishvili then reckoned that “the only way to solve the conflict is dialogue,” adding that “the war is not a solution and Georgia has chosen the way of peace.”

“This is not the first time Georgia was occupied, we have always regained our unity,” the Georgian President concluded on a hopeful note.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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