As Georgia awaits the European Commission’s recommendation on Georgia’s candidacy to become a candidate to join the European Union, we reached out to chief diplomats of the European countries with a few brief questions. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš was the first to respond with his outlook on the EC’s anticipated decision and to send a message to the Georgian people.
Q: If you were to vote on Georgia’s EU candidacy today, how would you vote?
Fortunately, we do not have to rush into this important decision as we are looking forward to the European Commission’s assessment of Georgia’s progress in implementing the 12 recommendations and its readiness for candidate status, which we will examine carefully.
Q: What would make you change your mind (one way or another)?
Candidate status is based on merit and can be obtained under certain conditions. It is up to the Georgian government to do its utmost to prove to the EU that it has done its utmost to comply with the 12 recommendations of the European Commission. For Latvia, it is important to see genuine progress on the implementation of the reforms and increased alignment with EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Q: If Georgia does not get the candidate status in December, what do you envisage to be on the table from the EU?
At this stage, I would not like to speculate on Georgia’s prospects as we would like to see a full assessment by the European Commission. However, in a worst-case scenario, if the European Commission’s assessment and recommendation will be negative we should be ready to postpone the decision until we see the necessary progress.
Q: What is your message to the Georgian people regarding Georgia’s European future?
Since the restoration of our independence, Latvia has lived under constant political and economic threat from Russia, but these difficulties did not change our vision that we belong to Europe and that Euro-Atlantic integration is the only right direction, away from Russia and its imperialist and aggressive nature. We understand very well our Georgian friends as Russia’s decision to invade parts of Georgia in 2008 was a deliberate attempt to prevent Georgia from moving in the same direction. The opposite was achieved and today we see overwhelming popular support for Georgia to become an EU member. We urge Georgia to show political unity in working towards EU candidate status as a whole.
Q: What is your message to the other EU members regarding Georgia’s future in the EU?
Latvia firmly supports Georgia’s European integration and reform process. Following yet another despicable example of Russia’s aggression that has raised geopolitical stakes, we should welcome to our club Member States that follow and uphold democratic values and see Russia clearly for what it is – a constant threat and aggressor to our values and security.
Q: Is there a strategic vision of the EU towards Georgia and the region, and how would you describe it?
Let me underline that the current dialogue between the EU and Georgia shows the commitment of both sides to continue dialogue and cooperation in line with the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. Georgia is a very important partner for the EU, and we have consistently and firmly expressed our unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The overall EU strategy vis-à-vis the South Caucasus region is based on engagement and a “more for more” approach in order to promote stability and prosperity, as well as to reduce Russia’s influence in the region. The “More for more” approach rewards those partners that are willing to move closer to the EU and its democratic values.