EU’s Herczyński: Georgia’s CFSP Alignment Low

EU Ambassador to Georgia Paweł Herczyński, commenting with journalists at the February 26 event “Fighting for Freedom, Defending Europe – War in Ukraine and the Role of its Partners in Defending Ukraine & Euro-Atlantic Security”, spoke, among other issues, about Georgia’s foreign policy alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), stressing that “for the moment, the alignment rate is rather low” compared to that of the other countries seeking EU membership.

CFSP Alignment: According to Ambassador Herczyński, the EU expects “all candidate countries, including Georgia, to have this [CFSP] alignment rate as close to one hundred percent as possible.” While noting that there are “a lot of sensitivities” in the Georgian case, referring to the geopolitical situation and the occupied territories, Ambassador Herczyński stressed that the EU expects a “gradual increase” in the alignment rate, which he said has already been increasing “since the last several months”. According to him, the EU is working with the Georgian authorities to ensure that the rate of CFSP alignment increases so that once Georgia joins the Union, its foreign policy will be “identical” to that of the EU. He also noted that this low rate is problematic, because it means that if Georgia were in the EU, approximately half of the CFSP statements by EU would not have been adopted due to the lack of consensus.

Disinformation: Asked to comment on disinformation and foreign information manipulation in Georgia, Ambassador Herczyński emphasized that as elections approach in both Georgia and the European Union, “for sure, this information targeting the European Union [and the West] will increase.”

Elections: The EU Ambassador declined to comment specifically on the Georgian elections, stressing that the EU cannot support any particular political party in Georgia, although he did emphasize that the EU clearly supports free and fair elections, as well as a free and fair electoral process, so that each political party can present its program and is be able to fight for votes, and the future parliament can represent the diversity of different opinions of the Georgian people.

Nine Steps, Accession Negotiations: Asked whether Georgia’s failure to meet any of the European Commission’s nine steps will affect the country’s European path, i.e. its advancement to the next stage of opening EU accession negotiations, Ambassador Herczyński said that the EU is currently starting preparations for the next enlargement report. Ambassador Herczyński stated that the EU will consult with “practically everyone”, noting that consultations with civil society will begin next week. He also emphasized that the EU will “rely very heavily on the input of the Georgian Government”. Finally, Ambassador Herczyński encouraged all Georgian stakeholders involved in the implementation of the nine conditions to “work tirelessly”. He urged the government to be inclusive and the opposition to be constructive in working together to fulfill the conditions.

Unity: The EU Ambassador underlined the importance of unity of various players in Georgia for the common goal of the country to join the EU: “My dream is to see unity among not only Georgian population, but among Georgia’s political elites.” He expressed his wish for the government to be inclusive, the opposition to be constructive and civil society to be meaningfully involved in the processes. “This is a collective effort, a monumental task, this is a historic moment, and this requires the unity of everyone working in the same direction.”

De-oligarchization: Asked about the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Venice Commission’s recommendations in this regard, the EU Ambassador first mentioned de-oligarchization, saying that it essentially means “creating a system that would make Georgian political life resilient to the different pressures coming from the influential, rich businessmen,” adding that the Anti-Corruption Bureau plays one of the key elements in this regard and that the EU hopes that it will be “significantly strengthened.”

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