More than 80% of the Georgian population supports the idea that Georgia should become a member of the European family, and this is not just a government choice; “This is a civilized choice made by the Georgian people,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili told a panel at the Davis Economic Forum on “redefining the EU’s partnership with the neighbourhood.”
According to the head of the government, everything will be done to bring Georgia closer to the EU and closer to the final goal, which is full membership in the EU.
“First of all, thank you very much for the invitation. We were given an excellent opportunity to talk about Georgia’s aspirations to join the European Union. This is a great opportunity because we could not meet in person because of Covid. So, thank you again for this opportunity. Georgia is a very reliable and loyal partner of the European Union. This is the choice of our nation and does not belong to the government alone. I would say that this is a civilized choice made by the Georgian people. We have shown a very loyal partnership with the EU because we share common values and principles. As you know, in 2014, we signed the Association Agreement. This is the main document and guide for full membership. Since then, we have signed a free trade agreement and achieved tangible results in the form of a visa-free regime, which is also important for the population of Georgia. We have just officially applied for EU membership. In response to your question, I would like to say that the closer we get to the EU and its membership, the more acceptable it will be to us because we have no other alternative. “As I have already mentioned, this is the choice of the Georgian people, and we will do everything – we will do our best – to get closer to the EU and get closer to our ultimate goal, which is full membership in the EU,” – said Irakli Garibashvili.
According to the head of government, over 80% of the Georgian population supports the idea that Georgia should become a member of the European family, and this is not just a government choice.
“We have already implemented more than 45% of the partnership agreement. Since 2014, we have been pursuing a very ambitious reform agenda and will ensure improvements in all areas, be it the rule of law, justice reform, or open governance. We have made significant progress in all directions, and people are seeing it. We have been trying to get closer to Europe for centuries. We did not start this way in 2014 when we signed the Association Agreement. We have been trying for centuries to be part of the civilized world, of civilized Europe. Now we have to manage the expectations of our people because, from our point of view, in this process, we are committed to European values and principles, we carry out democratic reforms, and we do everything given in the Association Agreement. We have already implemented more than 45% of the Association Agreement. Since 2014, we have been pursuing a very ambitious reform agenda and will ensure improvements in all areas, be it the rule of law, justice reform, or open governance. We have made significant progress in all directions, and people can see it. Now the question is – do we raise these expectations? Should we tell our people that Georgia will receive this symbolic, political recognition? Recognizing that Georgia is part of the European family … Should we explain to them that time is not ripe yet and we may have to think about doing so in the future? We need to see action today because today, the world has changed. What is happening in Ukraine is a challenge not only for Ukraine’s security but for the security architecture of Europe as a whole. I want to remind you of the 2008 war. Unfortunately, at that time, we did not see the unity we see today. We welcome this unity. This glorious thing is like the reaction of the whole civilized world. But we – Georgians – paid a very high price after the restoration of independence. We had a large-scale war with Russia in 2008, and we also had two wars in the 1990s: Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The result of this war is the temporary occupation of our historical territories. We understand the suspicions that exist in the EU because, as already mentioned, they do not want to “import” all these problems into the EU. We also understand that granting candidate status does not mean granting membership. This is, as the President of Estonia noted, a long process. We understand that. We have our “homework” in the form of an association agreement. “We need clarity and a relevant, adequate response from the European Union,” Irakli Gharibashvili said.
The head of the government ended his speech at the panel discussion with the words of Mikheil Muskhelishvili.
“Let me quote the famous Georgian scientist, co-author of the European Constitution, Mr Mikheil Muskhelishvili (Michel Muskheli):” Georgia knows that its place is in Europe. “Now Europe has to make conclusions,” this is my final comment, “Irakli Gharibashvili said.
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Natalia Gavrilitsa, the President of the Republic of Estonia, Alar Karis, and the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Alexander Schalenberg, participated in the meeting together with the Prime Minister of Georgia.