EU Holds its Regional Ambassadorial in Tbilisi

The EU regional Ambassadorial is taking place in Tbilisi on 14-15 March. The Ambassadorial is attended by the Heads of the EU Delegations in the Eastern Partnership countries, Central Asia, Ukraine, Turkey, as well as senior officials from the EU External Action Service and the European Commission, as well we colleagues EU officials from Moscow, Ankara, OSCE, etc.

Speaking to journalists, Michael Siebert, Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Co-operation and OSCE, explained the objectives of the Ambassadorial, involving discussing EU policy towards the countries of the region, accession of some countries to the EU, communications, connectivity, bridging across the Caspian sea and other topics.

Asked about the EU’s intention to adopt a law similar to the one rejected by Georgian society last week, he said that he could understand that this was a topical issue in Georgia, as last week Georgia had “fortunately” rejected the law that would regulate NGOs. However, he stressed that, firstly, the EU was not adopting the law, but launching a broad discussion with stakeholders across the Union and, secondly, “There is no draft law… The topic is different: it is not about regulating NGOs, which are part of vibrant civil society that we want to foster, part of any democratic society.” He went on to say: ““It’s about looking into lobbying institutions of foreign governments”, adding that “there are a couple of countries we look at when they ask lobbying companies to work for them… And we would like to look at that a bit closer and discuss it with stakeholders.”

He also noted: “I have seen many videos in the last week where European flags have been waved in very courageous moments. I have seen this woman waving  European flag against the water cannons, so this is the picture that stays in my head.”

When asked about Georgia’s candidacy status he noted that December is still far away, adding: “we see the ball being in Georgia’s court. It’s a question of legal processes, putting norms on paper, but also very much about implementation and the way it is done” adding that the government needs to be inclusive and civil society has to be involved.

Mr. Siebert noted the full programme of the visit, saying that in addition to the Ambassadors’ meeting itself, “we also have bilateral consultations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and nine opposition parties, all parties in Parliament, and more, with civil society organizations”.

He stressed that “these stakeholders are a very important part of a vibrant civil society and a necessary ingredient of any democracy, and very much needed to move Georgia forward towards the EU”.

Another ambassadorial participant, Katarina Maternova, Deputy Assistant of the European Commission’s Directorate for the Eastern Neighbourhood, echoed her colleague’s remarks on the issue of Georgia’s candidacy status, noting that “the ball is very much in Georgia’s court”. She stressed that civil society engagement was “incredibly important”. She also said: “if decision was made today, it is very difficult to judge, but there are clearly still steps than need to be taken that were outlined by us”.

Ms. Maternova emphasized that later this year Georgia, along with Ukraine and Moldova, will be in included in the enlargement package, and there will be a very thorough assessment of all the countries with European perspective…”. She added: “I very much hope that between now and fall there will be enough ammunition to go for candidate status.”

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


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