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EU Enlargement Commissioner Visits Georgia

European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, began his November 15-16 visit to Georgia today, where he has already met and held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

Prime Minister Garibashvili’s Remarks

Path to Europe

During the press conference, Prime Minister Garibashvili noted that he thanked Commissioner Várhelyi for his “personal contribution” to Georgia’s Europeanization and stated that the Commissioner is “a true friend of our country, a friend of our people, [and] an active supporter of our country’s European choice.”

Highlighting that this is the Commissioner’s first visit to Georgia since the EU granted Georgia a European perspective, the Georgian PM emphasized that along with “great motivation,” “This is also a great responsibility for our ruling force, our government, our people.”

“We understand this well, and with this responsibility, in this spirit, we are meticulously working on the implementation of the 12 recommendations,” he said and reiterated that Georgia is committed to its European choice.

“This is our historic choice, it is the choice of generations and the dream of generations that we become a worthy and full-fledged member of the European family, and we are doing our best on this path,” the Prime Minister underscored.

In this context, PM Garibashvili brought attention to the implementation of the 12 recommendations and noted that within a week of receiving them, the Georgian Dream party presented a plan to implement the recommendations and invited all actors to participate in the effort.

However, he underlined that “unfortunately,” the opposition, “whose direct obligation is to implement these recommendations, [and] the main, first recommendation – which is depolarization,” is not involved in the process.

“We have clearly explained and clarified that it is impossible to achieve this if there is no similar willingness to cooperate on their part,” the PM remarked, adding that candidate status belongs not only to the government but to the entire country.

“It belongs to every citizen of our country. Therefore, I would like to emphasize once again that our door is open to everyone and once again, I would like to remind all actors that their involvement in this process is necessary,” he said.

Russian Occupation

During his speech, PM Garibashvili also raised the issue of Russian occupation and stated that the continued presence of Russian troops on Georgian territory remains one of the country’s main challenges. “Our main task and goal are to de-occupy our country in a peaceful way and to make our country whole,” he stressed.

Building on the subject, the Prime Minister asserted that since the Georgian Dream party came to power, the country has had such “continuous peace and stability” since its independence was first restored.

“We managed to do this with our reasonable policy and at the same time with our principles after we came to power,” he said.

War in Ukraine

The Georgian Prime Minister also mentioned the war in Ukraine as one of the significant challenges facing the region and noted that “our common desire is for this war to end as soon as possible.”

“I want to say once again that we support Ukraine, Ukraine’s sovereignty, their independence as much as possible, [and] at all levels,” PM Garibashvili underscored.

Economic Assistance

Prime Minister Garibashvili also brought attention to the “active help” provided to Georgia by the EU for developing the country’s economy, including in areas of infrastructure and energy.

“Our relationship is very dynamic, a very strong partnership, and most importantly – these relationships are based on our common values and common interests,” he said.

Commissioner Várhelyi’s Remarks

European Commission’s 12 Recommendations

Regarding the 12 recommendations for Georgia to receive candidate status, the Commissioner emphasized during the press conference that in the coming weeks and months Georgia must “work very hard to demonstrate its readiness to become a candidate country.”

“However, I have to also underline that of course, this can only come true if the whole country, the whole of Georgia, and all Georgians – inside or outside Georgia – will work for this common goal,” he added. “Because I am convinced that history never offers the same chance twice.”

In that context, the Commissioner noted that he was “pleased to see that steps are already being made” to fulfill the EU reforms, like judicial reforms, and the fight against corruption.

He reiterated, however, that “there is still a lot to work on and for example, we need a fully independent Anti-Corruption Agency, we would need the law on de-oligarchization – I understand that work has already started there as well – and of course, we need steps to intensify work on the fight against organized crime, and you know the rest of the 12 priorities.”

“Because the faster Georgia addresses these 12 priorities, the faster it can advance on its chosen European path,” Commissioner Várhelyi remarked.

Energy Security

Commissioner Várhelyi also spoke about energy security and developing EU-Georgia relations, noting during the press conference, “The message that I come with is that we want to build a partnership with you when it comes to reliable energy supply to Europe and through it, also energy security for Georgia and the Caucasus, and for Europe.”

In that context, he emphasized that the Black Sea is at the “heart” of the EU’s plans with Georgia, and highlighted the “symbolic historically” project for a Black Sea electricity cable connecting Georgia with Europe.

The Commissioner noted that particularly in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “we need reliable, trusted partners” in areas of security, the economy, and energy. “Georgia could be one of those partners,” he underscored.

Building on his comments on potential infrastructural projects linking Georgia with Europe, Commissioner Várhelyi also brought attention to the “news” that he received a few days ago that “Georgia is planning to build an LNG [liquefied natural gas] terminal that could create additional capacities for bringing gas to Europe.”

“With all these projects at our hands, I think we have everything to make Georgia part of Europe and to deliver Europe for the Georgians,” Commissioner Várhelyi denoted.

Note: This article was revised on 16 November at 13:00 to reflect an updated version of Commissioner Várhelyi’s address.

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

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