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In UNGA Speech, PM Talks Russian Occupation, EU Integration

In his address to the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) on September 22, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili focused on Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, human rights, Georgia’s support for Ukraine, peaceful neighborhood policy and the country’s leading positions in various international rankings.

Occupation

PM Garibashvili noted that after Russia attacked Georgia in 2008 “resulting in the occupation of 20% of the country,” the international community recognized this as aggression, but “as we have learned, the world’s democracies must act as one to ensure that freedom and peace prevail.”

“The UN was founded to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and protect state sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is our duty. It is our promise,” he noted.

The PM also stressed that Georgia “seeks all opportunities for collaboration with our international partners to advance the cause of peace.”

In this context, PM stressed that the Geneva International Discussions are “particularly crucial” to bring Russia to the table to address the implementation of the EU-mediated 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. “Georgia appreciates the international community’s support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he pointed out.

“Today, at the United Nations General Assembly, I want to speak directly to my Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers and sisters and once again tell them that our strength is in unity. We will build Georgia together and peacefully turn it into a prosperous, free and unified European state,” PM Garibashvili stated.

Euro-Atlantic Integration

PM Garibashvili noted that the country continues its path towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration, saying “our commitment to these goals is backed up by actions and real results, including an Association Agreement, DCFTA, and visa-free travel with the EU”.

“Increased Euro-Atlantic and European integration is our way of returning to the family of European nations, with whom we share history, culture, and most importantly, values,” the Prime Minister stressed.

“Increased Euro-Atlantic and European integration is our way of returning to the family of European nations, with whom we share history, culture, and most importantly, values,” the Prime Minister stressed.

In this context, he noted Georgia’s application for full EU membership, saying that “the historic decision of the European Council to give us a European Perspective created a new set of benchmarks. Just as in the past, Georgia will meet and exceed those benchmarks.”

PM Garibashvili also stressed that the prospect of the EU membership is “a strong motivation for our country and our citizens.” He said that the Georgian government is fully aware that “the European perspective comes with a responsibility of the highest political, economic, and legal convergence with the EU.”  

Speaking about the fulfillment of the European Commission’s recommendations for Georgia to attain the candidate status, the PM noted that “Georgia immediately responded to the European Council’s decision by presenting an action plan to address the EU’s 12 priorities.”

In this context, he clarified that “the working groups have been established in parliament for each priority area with all relevant stakeholders.” “This inclusive process ensures full engagement of all branches of government, the opposition parties, and civil society,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that an ambitious reform agenda implemented since the Georgian Dream government came to power in 2012 “brought us closer to our key international partners, the EU, the United States, NATO, and the United Nations.”

“For the first time since we regained independence, Georgia has enjoyed an unprecedented decade of peace, prosperity, and stability,” he stressed. 

Noting that “we are making progress and are well ahead of schedule,” the Prime Minister said that Georgia deserves EU candidate status, which “will bring us to eventual membership and make the dream of generations a reality.”

Human rights protection

Speaking about the human rights situation in the country, PM Garibashvili noted that the country has a new National Strategy for Human Rights Protection for 2022-2030, which was approved “following discussions with both international partners and domestic civil society organizations.”

He noted that this “comprehensive document” covers all fundamental human rights and freedoms. “The Strategy aims to further improve human rights protection standards and is in line with the UN sustainable development goals.”

Support for Ukraine

The Georgian PM also focused on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and noted that “Russia’s full-fledged war in Ukraine undermines Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law.”

“As the conflict in Ukraine has shown, the wider Black Sea Security is at the forefront of the Euro-Atlantic Security agenda, and Georgia, as an indivisible part of the regional architecture, is ready to increase our contribution to common security,” PM Garibashvili said.

Speaking about Georgia’s support for Ukraine, the Prime Minister stressed that “Georgia stands with Ukraine.” “Since the start of the war, our government has provided substantial humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, including the allocation of more than 1000 tons of humanitarian aid. Georgia provides financial assistance and accommodation to over 32 000 Ukrainians currently residing in our country,” he said.

PM Garibashvili also noted that the Georgian education system has enrolled more than 1,500 Ukrainian students, many of whom receive “general education in the Ukrainian language according to the standard Ukrainian curricula.”

The Prime Minister stressed that Georgia has sponsored, joined, or supported almost 400 resolutions, statements and other initiatives in support of Ukraine, including “being a main sponsor of the UNGA76 resolution on the humanitarian consequences of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.”

“We have aligned with restrictive measures of the EU against Crimea and Sevastopol since 2014, and this year, with restrictive measures on Donetsk and Luhansk,” PM Garibashvili noted.

Citing the U.S. State Department’s report on the investment climate in Georgia, the Prime Minister noted that “the National Bank of Georgia and Georgian financial institutions act fully in accordance with the financial sanctions imposed by the United States and others on the Russian Federation.”

Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative  

Noting that security brings stability, the PM stressed that “the more predictable the Black Sea region becomes, the more we can unlock its economic potential for the benefit of our people and the global economy.”

He also said that for that reason, Georgia is developing strategic transport corridors connecting Asia with Europe and participates in several international initiatives and infrastructure projects with European colleagues to improve connectivity and facilitate reliable and efficient commerce across the Black Sea.  

“Despite the complex situation in our region, we spare no effort to foster rapprochement between our neighbors. We have already had success stories, including the safe return of 15 Armenian detainees to their homeland in exchange for maps of mined territories to Azerbaijan,” PM Garibashvili noted.

Recollecting the meeting between Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers in Tbilisi in July 2022, Garibashvili said that “we are ready to serve as a venue for this dialogue to bring much-needed peace and stability to our region.”

“With this in mind, Georgia has been promoting the Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative, which envisions participation by all three states of the South Caucasus. This new initiative is not substituting, countering, or opposing any other cooperation formats. Georgia serves as an honest broker to aid in normalizing regional relations,” he stressed.

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

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