Ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit on December 15, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held meetings with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi, as well as foreign leaders in Brussels. Also in the Belgian capital earlier today, Irakli Garibashvili met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Meeting with President Michel
The discussion between PM Garibashvili and President Michel touched on the importance of the EaP Summit declaration reflecting the key priorities of Georgia, the Georgian PM’s press service reported.
In this context, the Georgian Prime Minister told the European Council President that integration into the EU single market and enhancing digital connectivity are important for Georgia.
Besides, the two officials discussed Georgia’s reforms. “Reassured [Georgia’s] commitment to the reform agenda on is [EU] integration path,” PM Garibashvili tweeted after the meeting, adding that “ambitious benchmarks are set [and] we are diligent on this path.”
Meeting with Commissioner Várhelyi
PM Garibashvili and Commissioner Várhelyi’s meeting revolved around the main directions of Georgia-EU relations, including the implementation of the EU Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership, and the Summit agenda.
The Prime Minister stressed the importance of gradual economic integration and of strengthening energy and digital connectivity with the 27-member bloc, including by maximizing the Black Sea potential, according to the PM’s press service.
The parties also talked about the adoption of a new Eastern Partnership agenda, that is believed to strengthen the partner countries’ security, economies, institutions, and societies, as well as mechanisms of environmental and digital transformations.
The PM reportedly also reiterated Georgia’s ambition to apply for EU membership in 2024 and vowed to continue implementing reports to this end.
In a tweet after the meeting, the PM said he looked forward to active engagement with the EU partners to “achieve tangible progress on advancing our EU integration path.”
Commissioner Várhelyi, on his part, said that Black Sea connectivity remained an EU priority and underscored that Brussels would help the region in the fight against COVID-19 by providing more vaccines.
Meeting with Associated Trio Leaders, Lithuanian President
The Prime Minister, together with Ukrainian and Moldovan Presidents Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Maia Sandu, respectively, attended a working dinner chaired by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and attended by some other EU member state leaders.
“The reforms that have been implemented have required effort and have made a significant contribution to the political, economic, and social transformation of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. We have achieved good results, but that means only one thing – we cannot stop halfway,” noted the Lithuanian President, adding: “The Associated Trio must continue to make progress on reforms, and the EU must offer these countries a European perspective.”
In this regard, President Nausėda stressed the importance of progress in the rule of law, good governance, and the fight against corruption. He also said the EU should follow the principle of “more for more.”
Meeting with Estonian PM
At the meeting with PM Kaja Kallas, the Georgian side spoke about their expectations with regards to the Summit declaration, hoping it to reflect Georgian priorities such as the integration into the EU market and strengthening of transport, energy, and digital connectivity with the 27-member bloc, the Georgian Government’s press service reported.
The parties also discussed Georgian-Estonian relations, noting successful partnerships in the areas of innovations, digital technology, education, and defense, and stressed the importance of further deepening economic cooperation.
On her part, PM Kallas said in a tweet, they discussed the importance of democratic principles and cooperation with the Eastern Partnership.
“Focused also on European security and the right of every country to make its own foreign and security policy choices. No third country can have a say in that,” she added, rebuffing Moscow’s claims that NATO should formally disavow membership pledge to Georgia and Ukraine.
- Judiciary Reform, Media Freedom Vital, Stoltenberg Tells Georgian PM
- Tbilisi Irked as Russia Urges NATO Disavow Georgia, Ukraine Membership Promise