EU and Eastern Partner country representatives meet for international parliamentary conference in Tbilisi
Representatives of the European Parliament and parliaments of 17 EU Member States, Candidate States and Eastern Partner countries are meeting in the Georgian capital Tbilisi for an international parliamentary conference on 4-5 December. They will discuss EU integration as a framework for promoting internal reforms, and talk about the benefits and challenges associated with the EU-inspired transformation.
The event will focus on the political and economic reforms inspired by the Association Agreements in different countries, EU partnership instruments and cooperation frameworks, legislative challenges on the way to implementing the EU-driven reforms, and the economic impacts of European integration on business and trade.
The conference will also pay attention to citizen expectations before and after EU integration, ways of countering anti-European propaganda, and to the future of the Union, considering the 60th anniversary of the European cooperation.
The international parliamentary conference “EU and Partners – Embracing Diversity for Stronger Unity” has been organised by the Parliament of Georgia on the initiative of the European Integration Committee of the Parliament, with support from the European Union and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Ambassador K. Degnan spoke at the Renewable Energy Investment Conference
Clean, reliable, and affordable domestic energy production is critical for
Georgia to secure continued economic growth, meet its climate obligations, and
protect its unique environment.
The U.S. Government partners with Georgia to expand clean energy production.
Today, Ambassador Degnan spoke at the Renewable Energy Investment
Conference, organized by the USAID in partnership with the Ministry of Economy
and Sustainable Development. Her comments underscored how investments in
clean and renewable energy generation will help Georgian consumers increase
access to sustainable and affordable energy, reduce reliance on imports from other
countries, and meet Georgia’s climate goals.
Charles Michel at G7 meeting: Ukraine needs more and we are committed to providing more
Support for Ukraine is the focus of discussions at the G7 meeting taking place in Schloss Elmau, Germany, from 26 to 28 June. During these days, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union will work mainly on the global economy, partnerships for developing countries, foreign and security policy, sustainability, food security, multilateralism, and digital transformation.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, highlighted the support that the EU has provided to Ukraine, including €2 billion to provide military equipment. “Ukraine needs more and we are committed to providing more. This comprises more military support, more financial means and more political support. We are also committed to supporting Ukraine’s reconstruction,” said Michel.
“The EU and the G7 share the same goals: bringing Russia’s war machine to a halt, while protecting our economies and those of our partners. The EU will stand by the people of Ukraine for the long haul and will help defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our aim is to strongly defend our common democratic values,” said Michel.
The President added that during the G7 meeting, he would highlight food security – “the Kremlin is using food as a silent weapon of war” – and energy security in the light of the war.
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Georgia and the EU hold annual Human Rights Dialogue
On 22 June in Brussels, the EU and Georgia held the 15th round of the annual Human Rights Dialogue.
Participants exchanged views on the human rights situation in Georgia and on recent developments in the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights since the last dialogue in July 2021.
The Georgian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Teimuraz Gianjalia, and the EU delegation was led by Richard Tibbels, from the European External Action Service. The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, also participated in the meeting.
The next EU-Georgia human rights dialogue is planned to take place in Tbilisi in 2023.
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European Commission recommends to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status, Georgia receives perspective to become EU member
Today, the European Commission presented its Opinions on the applications for EU membership submitted by Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova as invited by the Council. The European Commission recommended to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status, while it recommended that Georgia be given the perspective to become a member of the EU, and that candidate status should be granted once a number of priorities have been addressed.
The Opinions are based on the Commission’s assessment in light of the three sets of criteria to join the EU agreed by the European Council: political criteria, economic criteria, and the ability of the country to assume the obligations of EU membership (EU acquis). According to a press release from the European Commission, the Opinions also take into account Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia’s efforts in implementing their obligations under the Association Agreements (AA), including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA), which cover significant parts of the EU acquis.
The European Commission has found that Ukraine overall is well advanced in reaching the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, and has continued its strong macro-economic record, demonstrating a noteworthy resilience with macroeconomic and financial stability, while needing to continue ambitious structural economic reforms. The country has gradually approximated to substantial elements of the EU acquis in many areas.
The European Commission concludes that the country has a solid foundation in place to reach the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities; macroeconomic policies have been reasonably sound and progress has been made in strengthening the financial sector and business environment but key economic reforms remain to be undertaken. The country has established a solid basis for further alignment with the EU acquis.
The European Commission assesses that Georgia has a foundation in place to reach the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, even if recent developments have undermined the country’s progress; it has achieved a good degree of macroeconomic stability and has a sound record of economic policy and a favourable business environment, but further reforms are needed to improve the functioning of its market economy; overall, Georgia has established a solid basis for further alignment with the EU acquis.
“Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective.” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told a press conference announcing the Opinions. “We want them to live with us in the European Union.”
She added: “Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia share the strong and legitimate aspiration of joining the European Union. Today, we are sending them a clear signal of support in their aspirations, even as they face challenging circumstances.”
“Indeed, this is a historic day for the people of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. We are confirming that they belong, in due time, in the European Union. The next steps are now in the hands of our Member States,” Ursula von der Leyen said.
Based on the European Commission’s Opinions, the EU Member States will now have to decide unanimously on the next steps.
The applications for EU membership by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova in light of the Commission’s Opinions will be discussed by Heads of State and Government at the European Council next week, on 23 and 24 June.
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EU faces a difficult choice – where the pendulum will swing?
European Commission is drawing closer to presenting its opinion on candidate status to Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova – members of the Association Trio. Meanwhile, questions and suggestions are mounting how to proceed in this way to find a “golden mean” amidst the war in Ukraine and highly unpredictable geostrategic context.
The stakes are high and considering all circumstances the European Union (EU) faces a difficult but historical decision. While, it is premature to talk in which direction the scales will swing, it’s evident that either negative or some intermediary decision about on any of the applicant state, will significantly affect their geopolitical future in the short and mid-term perspective. What about Georgia – the sole strategic ally of the West in the South Caucasus, the situation with regard to the status, still remains unclear. While we watch Ukraine as arena of a brutal geopolitical competition between the West and Russia on the European theater, Georgia remains another arena of geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the West. The absence of war nowadays, doesn’t mean it will not be unleashed tomorrow, if Russia finds Georgia alienated by the West. Thus, it's safe to say that EU candidate status for Georgia is highly likely to strengthen the EU foothold in the region and have a far-reaching influence on the other states of the region.
Before the pendant conclusion of the European Commission about candidate status for Georgia some opinions are present both in Georgia and outside calling the EU on either refraining from granting the status to Georgia, or suggesting something transitional. These suggestions are largely generated by ongoing domestic political infighting in the country.
The benefits from granting candidate status to Georgia, which considerably outstrips other members of the Association Trio by the pace of fulfillment of the components of the EU Association Agreement appeared to be far more tangible, than conditional gains in case of refusal.
Let's put the questions specifically and directly. Whether it’s a prudent step to hold Georgia back from the candidate status, as some groups argue, and detach it somehow from the Association Trio in this truly extraordinary situation?
What will the EU gain and what will it lose if decides to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, and say "NO" to Georgia, or give it something different? Hardly this “cold shower” from the EU would contribute to political stability in Georgia, which is apparently important for the EU in this turbulent geopolitical environment. Georgia’s opposition groups and their supporters are highly likely to use this “NO” to embark on mass anti-governmental protests and Georgia is expected to plunge into another cycle of confrontation, turbulence, and uncertainty, with the ensuing consequences. It’s hard to imagine that the EU would be satisfied with such state of affairs in its key partner in the region.
Refusal to grant Georgia candidate status under any plausible pretext, can significantly increase not only Euro-skepticism but outright anti-Western sentiments in a sizeable part of Georgian society, providing anti-Western forces with an excellent opportunity to increase their influence and strengthen their stance. Nowadays, they are quite industrious in creating an anti-European atmosphere in society. Will the EU be satisfied with this perspective?
Pinning hope that the refusal to give a candidate’s status will force Georgia’s ruling party to become more malleable to the EU demands looks unconvinced. Quite the contrary, the care for its own political future, will make the current government far more dutybound to implement the EU-recommended reforms. The idea cultivated by some Georgian and foreign pundits and politicians that Georgia will better meet EU standards under the new government after the pre-term elections, looks rather emotional than well-calculated. If consider the balance of political powers in Georgia, as well as composition of the current political landscape, this scenario looks unrealistic.
And, last but not least,the status of the candidate for EU membership is not an act of mercy for Georgia. It will give the country a strong and unequivocal signal from the EU to take the road to justice, peace and security, or be faced, even more than before, with tension and confrontation that would not be in the interests of any party. It’s time for making extraordinary but geopolitically far-sighted decisions.
Zaal Anjaparidze, political analyst, Tbilisi, Georgia