What about Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Since the war in 2008, there have been few major flareups between Russia and Georgia, but numerous minor and medium sized clashes between the two countries. Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been at the center, both symbolically and actually, of many of these. It is possible to see these conflicts as having been frozen since the war, but that is not accurate. While Georgia has succeeded in stymieing Russia’s efforts to win almost any international recognition for their position that these are two independent states, Tbilisi has been unable to stop Russia from tightening its control over these regions or pushing the de facto borders, usually by erecting fences, further into the rest of Georgia.
Despite these issues and the obvious relevance of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to broader Russian efforts to increase their influence in what they call their near abroad, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not exactly front and center issues in Georgian political life. This is in part because the Georgian government lacks a clear policy approach that could solve the problem. Military solutions are not possible. Strategic patience is little more than a euphemism for doing nothing and hoping for the best. Other more innovative approaches, such as engaging in more dialog and the like would cause political problems for the ruling GD. Additionally, because both the GD and the UNM were unable to move Abkhazia and South Ossetia closer to Georgian sovereignty, neither party has much of an incentive to focus a lot of political attention on these questions.
It is, however, significant that the New Years delegation from the US Senate visited the boundary line at Khurvaleti near South Ossetia. This was a reminder, not least to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that despite Donald Trump, some in the US leadership have not forgotten about Russia’s occupation of much of Georgia. Given the increased tension, but also increasingly strange relationship, between Russia and the west, 2017 could see Abkhazia and South Ossetia taking on a political relevance that is much greater than in previous years.
The year ahead will force Georgia to confront a changing world where long held notions, like the stability of American democracy or core concepts underpinning NATO, can no longer be assumed. While Georgia must craft a strategy for a changing Washington, and changing relationships between Washington and Moscow, there are domestic issues, such as the longstanding needs to deepen multi-party democracy and create an economy that benefits ordinary Georgians that will require attention and determine what happens to Georgia this year as well.
Joint press release following the 3rd Association Council meeting between the European Union and GeorgiaFriday, 02 December 2016 15:23
The European Union and Georgia held the 3rd meeting of the Association Council on 2 December 2016. The Council is the highest formal body established under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement to supervise the implementation of the Agreement and to discuss issues of mutual interest. This meeting took place after the entry into force of the Association Agreement on 1 July 2016 that marked the start of its full-scale implementation.
The Association Council welcomed the fact that the parliamentary elections in October were competitive, well-administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected, as stated in the OSCE/ODIHR preliminary report. Both sides highlighted the importance of addressing all recommendations related to the administration of the elections in order to further strengthen the environment favourable for democratic conduct of elections. The Association Council agreed that the strong parliamentary majority is a responsibility to strengthen democratic institutions, consolidate pluralistic democracy in Georgia and advance reforms. The EU expressed its readiness for close cooperation with the new Georgian government to advance the common EU-Georgia bilateral agenda.
The Association Council took note of the 2016 Association Implementation Report on Georgia and positively assessed the significant progress in EU-Georgia relations since the last Association Council in November 2015. Both sides acknowledged Georgia's European aspiration, its European choice and the common objective to continue building a democratic, stable and prosperous country. They reaffirmed their continued commitment to Georgia's political association and economic integration with the EU. The Association Council underlined the importance of setting the Association Agenda priorities for 2017-2020 and welcomed the involvement of civil society in this process.
The Association Council emphasized the shared vision of building a resilient state, institutions and society highlighted in the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy.
The Association Council welcomed the progress made by Georgia in the implementation of comprehensive reforms in the justice sector. Both sides agreed on the need for Georgia to consolidate the progress achieved. The EU underlined its commitment to continue assisting Georgia in its efforts to reform the judiciary and safeguard the rule of law.
While emphasising Georgia's successful implementation of all required benchmarks under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, the Association Council stressed the importance of a prompt finalization of the decision making process required to exempt Georgian citizens, holding biometric passports, from the visa requirement within the Schengen area.
Both sides welcomed the initial benefits of the economic integration through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) implementation. Ensuring long-term sustainable development and inclusive economic growth were highlighted as core goals of the Georgian Government's domestic reform programme, in line with the commitments of the Association Agreement. The EU underlined the importance of sound macroeconomic policies in this respect and welcomed the renewed momentum for Georgia to reach an agreement with the IMF.
The Association Council welcomed the positive trends in trade between the EU and Georgia since the provisional application of the DCFTA. The sides highlighted the importance of creating more “success stories” in terms of new market openings for Georgian products, as well as the need to better communicate the advantages of the DCFTA to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). Both sides welcomed the decision of the Joint Committee of the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Convention on Rules of Origin to admit Georgia as a contracting party to the Convention that will further facilitate the export of Georgian products to the EU market.
The Association Council underlined Georgia's strategic role in the field of energy and transport connectivity and welcomed the signature of the Protocol on the accession of Georgia to the Energy
Community on 14 October 2016, as envisaged by the implementation of the Association Agreement.
The Association Council welcomed the solid EU assistance provided to Georgia, which had particularly increased in the period 2014-2017 with an annual average of €100 million available to support the ambitious political, judicial and economic reforms envisaged in the Association Agreement and the Association Agenda. The Association Council underlined the importance of the promotion of EU investments in the Georgian economy and welcomed a proposal to focus future assistance for 2017-2020 on Economic Growth, Private Sector Support and developing efficient value chains and increased competitiveness in selected sectors with high export potential and/or import substitution.
Both sides welcomed and stressed the importance of successful cooperation established between the EU and Georgia on Strategic Communication.
The EU expressed readiness to assist Georgia's increased participation in EU programmes in order to bring tangible results to the population. The Association Council commended Georgia's growing cooperation with the EU agencies and welcomed further steps in this direction. The Association Council encouraged the strengthening of sectoral cooperation through enhanced dialogue between the relevant EU and Georgian institutions and use of all available EU instruments.
The EU reiterated its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders, as well as its firm commitment to peace, stability and conflict resolution in Georgia. To this end, the EU is committed to using all instruments at its disposal through a comprehensive approach, including its policy of non-recognition and engagement in Georgia. The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia and the EU co-chairmanship of the Geneva International Discussions, the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) are visible and substantial signs of this commitment.
The Association Council stressed the crucial importance of the Geneva International Discussions for addressing and resolving the challenges stemming from the conflict in Georgia. It also agreed that fully functional Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) are essential for confidence, predictability and transparency on the ground. The contribution of the EU Monitoring Mission to security and stability on the ground was particularly highlighted.
The Association Council was deeply concerned with the recent ratification of the so-called agreement between the Russian Federation and the Georgian region of Abkhazia on the creation of a “joint group of military forces” and considered this step detrimental to security and stability in the region. The EU underlined that this so-called agreement, similar to the earlier so-called “Agreement on the State Border” between the Russian Federation and the Georgian region of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, and the so-called “Treaties” signed between the Russian Federation and the two Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, have no legal status for the EU. These so-called agreements violate international law, including the principles of inviolability of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
The Association Council called on the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations under the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and its subsequent implementing measures of 8 September 2008, and to provide EUMM access to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Both sides expressed concern over the human rights situation in these regions, including with regards to freedom of movement and access to education in native language in the Georgian region of Abkhazia.
The Association Council agreed on the importance of continuing and intensifying a broad policy that includes the whole society and encouraged Georgia to sustain its efforts to reach out to its communities throughout its entire territory. The Association Council noted the importance of further supporting people-to-people contacts across the divide and confidence building measures between conflict-affected communities and encouraging reconciliation efforts.
The EU expressed appreciation for Georgia's continued contribution to EU-led crisis management operations and missions in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Mali, as well as readiness to support strengthening of respective capacities of the country.
The EU commended Georgia's active participation in the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership. It welcomed Georgia's contribution to the ENP review and elaboration of the Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy. The Association Council underlined the importance of translating the strategies into clear and concrete policy priorities and deliverables.
The Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms. Federica Mogherini. The Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili led the Georgian delegation consisting of members of the Government of Georgia.
Foreign Minister of Georgia H.E. Mikheil Janelidze welcomed H.E Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP for a bilateral visit to Georgia. The visit took place in parallel with the third round of the high level UK-Georgia bilateral “Wardrop” Dialogue, led by Foreign Minister of Georgia, Mikheil Janelidze and Minister of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP. The dialogue is named after Sir Oliver Wardrop, an expert on Georgian language and culture who was posted to Tbilisi as the UK’s first Chief Commissioner of the Transcaucasus from 1919-1921.
Summary: Discussions during the Wardrop Dialogue covered current and future UK-Georgia cooperation in the political, defence and security spheres; process for Georgia’s integration with the EU and NATO; progress on priority reforms, including the government’s 4 point reform plan, and judicial reform in Georgia; and an exchange of views on regional political and security developments. Both sides positively evaluated the work achieved under the Wardrop Dialogue banner so far in the fields of foreign policy, security and defence, business and the economy. The introduction of a new session on People-to-People relations brought a new element to this year’s Wardrop Dialogue, with a particular emphasis on developing educational ties, cultural collaboration and city twinning.
At the opening Ministerial Plenary Session Minister Janelidze gave an update on developments in Georgia since the last session in 2015, including the October Parliamentary elections, and a forward look at the new Government of Georgia's agenda. Minister for Europe and the Americas Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP said that the UK looked forward to continuing to work with Georgia, and gave an update on developments in the UK since the last Dialogue in 2015. He stressed that the UK would maintain a leading role in global affairs through the UNSC, NATO, G7, and G20, and that the UK’s decision to leave the EU would not mean any reduction in its interest in, or commitment to, Georgia and the wider region. Minister Duncan stressed that the UK follows the conflict in Georgia and he condemned the ratification by the Russian Federation of the so-called “agreement” on the creation of a joint group of armed forces in Abkhazia region. In recognition of the value of this annual Dialogue and the close ties between our two countries, Minister Janelidze and Minister Duncan agreed to an upgrade of the UK-Georgia dialogue to become the “Wardrop Strategic Dialogue”.
During official level discussions, the two sides discussed cooperation on political, security and defence issues; business and economic cooperation; and the potential for further expanding people-to-people ties, education and cultural links. In the political, security and defence discussions, the UK side noted that the October parliamentary elections had been competitive and well-administered, and expressed its strong continuing support for Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations.
The UK also reiterated once again its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, and expressed concern over the grave security and human rights situation in Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. The UK firmly supports the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Georgia, based on full respect of the fundamental norms and principles of international law and the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
The two sides welcomed the strong security and defence relationship between their two Governments, noting the extent of defence cooperation, and welcoming continued exchange of expertise on Cyber and Counter-Terrorism issues. The UK expressed its appreciation for Georgia’s continuing contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Both sides welcomed the participation of 160 British military personnel in the US-Georgia military exercise Noble Partner 2016.
The two sides discussed further potential for deepening business and commercial ties, noting that the UK was the second biggest investor in Georgia and that bilateral trade is on an increasing trend. They highlighted the importance of the South Caucasus pipeline as an important component of European energy security.
Finally, the two sides welcomed strong existing people-to-people links and explored ways to increase educational and cultural ties between the UK and Georgia, including the activities undertaken by the British Council in Georgia, English language training programmes, the growing number of Chevening Scholarships for Georgia, with 17 Chevening scholars this year alone, and the strong partnerships represented by the twinning associations between Newport and Kutaisi; Tbilisi and Bristol; and Newcastle and Akhaltsikhe. Both sides agreed that all efforts should be made to support and develop these links further.
The President of Georgia condemns the fact that the Defense Committee of Russian Duma ratified the agreement on creating united army with occupied Abkhazia. As the Head of Georgia says, this act aims legalizing Russian occupation army in Abkhazia. Giorgi Margvelashvili calls to international society for reaction.
The press speaker Eka Mishveladze presented the position of the President at press conference today. According to her, this is a continuing process of the agreement signed in 2015 between Moscow and the so-called government of Sukhumi.
“The President of Georgia condemns this fact and calls it one more step for annexation the territories of Georiga,”-Eka Mishveladze said.
Abkhazians are Europeans and everything should be done for more active relations with Europe –this statement was made by the Former Special Representative of Secretary General of UN to Georgia Dieter Boden who visits Sukhumi.
As he said, German Fund Berghof invited him in Abkhazia. Boden met with the representatives of de-facto government of Abkhazia.
“There was a deep conflict and war. I think that there is no military act in the region now but this is not enough. The situation is not really normal. When I cross Enguri I see some abnormal situation. Abkhazia is isolated. I think that Abkhazians are Europeans and everything should be done for more active relations with Europe. This is a political problem,”-Dieter Boden said.
Two citizens of Georgia have been arrested at the occupation line, near the administrative border of Abkhazia. According to the local media, Nika and Badri Kulava have been arrested for illegal crossing the border.
According to the Border Department of Russia's Federal Security Service, one of them have tried to export 60 gr. Marihuana. They have been transferred to Gali Police department. They were arrested at September, 25.
Giorgi Margvelashvili - The peaceful emotion directed toward each other results the unification of our countryTuesday, 27 September 2016 15:49
The President of Georgia, H.E. Giorgi Margvelashvili has laid a wreath at the memorial of soldiers deceased in the war of Abkhazia, regarding the fall of Sokhumi, at the Heroes' Square. “Every year, on this tragic occasion, we paid tribute to the victims of this fratricidal war, to the memories of those people, who died in this dreadful war.
We are working for creation a united, powerful Georgia. The unification of our country will be the result of peaceful emotion directed toward each other. Also, we have awarded the twenty-eight individuals, who were sacrificed for territorial integrity’, - was stated by H.E. Giorgi Margvelashvili.
The former Prime Minister of Georgia offers building of high-class hotel and botanical garden to Abkhazian side. Bidzina Ivanishvili stated this today in the frames of regional media meeting in Kvemo Kartli.
“The building process will open in Ganmukhuri today. The unique hotel will built there with co-finance fund and beautiful botanical garden will also be opened. This was idea of me. This is a recreation zone. I wanted to make an offer to my Abkhazian brothers. This is an official initiative at border line. If this is okay to them, profit would have consumed the local infrastructure,”-Bidzina Ivanishvili said.
BY ASHISH KUMAR SEN
In an election season in which Georgia's NATO aspirations have been hotly debated, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili insists that his country's European choice is "irreversible."
"An overwhelming majority of the people of Georgia consider the goal of joining EU and NATO to be a necessity that will lead to a higher standard of democracy, security, peace, and prosperity in our country and region," Kvirikashvili said in an interview.
Georgia will hold parliamentary elections on October 8.
"While there are policy differences between many of the political parties running for office, it is remarkable that all major parties are unified in their commitment to further integration with the West," said Kvirikashvili.
A National Democratic Institute survey conducted earlier this year found strong support among Georgians for their government's Euro-Atlantic aspirations-68 percent in support of NATO and 71 percent for the European Union.
Nevertheless, in June, Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the Democratic Movement party, said: "Georgia should reject joining any kind of military bloc, be it NATO or any other military alliance. There should be no troops of any foreign country or a bloc on the Georgian soil."
In response, Davit Usupashvili, the leader of the Republican Party and speaker of the parliament, proposed a bill that would reflect Georgia's NATO aspirations in its constitution.
Georgia's quest for NATO membership has made little headway amid concerns among some members of the Alliance that such a move would incite Russia.
Asked about the Russian factor in Georgia's European aspirations, Kvirikashvili said: "[W]e firmly believe that embracing the European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Georgia and other countries of the region will send a strong signal that the re-emergence of spheres of influence and attempts to limit the foreign policy choices of sovereign states are unacceptable in the 21st century."
In our interview, Kvirikashvili also made the case for the EU to grant visa-free travel to Georgians. He contended that visa liberalization will be a "tangible benefit for our citizens, who overwhelmingly support European integration."
"It will also serve as a crucial reminder to the people in the occupied territories of the advantages of our European and Euro-Atlantic integration," he added, referring to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two provinces that were occupied by Russia following the war with Georgia in 2008. Russian President Vladimir Putin has since signed treaties with both provinces that give Moscow control over their defense as well as their borders.
EU enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty earlier in September that a decision on visa liberalization for Georgia will be made later this year.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili commented on a wide range of topics in an e-mail interview with the New Atlanticist's Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing Georgia today?
Kvirikashvili: The biggest task we face is remaining a beacon of stability and driver of economic growth in a region where we are surrounded by complex challenges. We have made great progress in recent years with respect to economic development, social cohesion, and democratic consolidation. But there is still work to do. We will never stop working to create a more free and prosperous Georgia.
As a result of Russian aggression in the August 2008 war, 20 percent of our territory remains occupied, and hundreds of thousands of people have been forcefully driven from their homes. We are reminded of their plight every day, and the lessons of August 2008 drive our efforts to build a stronger, more resilient nation.
That's why we are focused on transforming challenges into opportunities and building a country where all Georgians can thrive.
Q: What does the recently deepened security cooperation with the United States mean for Georgia?
Kvirikashvili: Expanding Georgia's defense capabilities and military-technical cooperation with the United States is crucial in the context of our security challenges. Secretary [of State John] Kerry's visit [to Tbilisi in July] was another demonstration of the United States' tremendous support for Georgia, which has been vital throughout the past twenty-five years since we regained independence. This is especially true in terms of Washington's staunch support of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as our strong NATO and EU aspirations.
Secretary Kerry and I signed a Memorandum on Deepening the Defense and Security Partnership between our two nations that is aimed at enhancing Georgia's self-defense capabilities and resilience. Under this new framework, we will exchange information and work together to counter common threats. It will also enable enhanced cooperation in areas of critical importance for Georgia's military, including strengthening the long-term sustainability of Georgia's forces and supporting defense procurement.
The United States has a dedicated friend in Georgia-a stable geopolitical ally and a strategic partner with common values and shared global security priorities. For over a decade, we have served alongside US servicemen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, we are focused on territorial defense measures, which are important for Georgia's security and regional stability. Cooperation with the United States is the key to our success.
Last week, in a strong showing of bipartisan unity, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 660, conveying America's support for Georgia's territorial integrity by a vote of 410 to 6. This bill signifies a powerful statement by the United States in support of Georgia and its sovereignty.
Q: At its Warsaw Summit, NATO urged countries that aspire to join the Alliance, including Georgia, to continue to implement necessary reforms in preparation for membership. Do you believe that post-Warsaw Georgia is any closer to securing NATO membership?
Kvirikashvili: Yes, we do believe we are closer to NATO membership.
The Warsaw Summit demonstrated that Georgia is progressing on its path towards NATO membership in terms of both political and practical cooperation. The allies reconfirmed that Georgia will become a member of NATO in accordance with the Bucharest Summit decision. They underlined that the integration process is moving forward and Georgia has all the practical tools to prepare for membership.
In the context of practical cooperation, the allies agreed to provide additional support and assistance to strengthen Georgia's self-defense, security, and resilience. These important new decisions include: affiliation of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC) with training and educational activities of the Allied Command Transformation (ACT); a provision of support for the development of Georgia's air defense and air surveillance; and the establishment of a trust fund for financial support for effective implementation of NATO-Georgia projects.
The allies have underlined that both the existing and new initiatives are helping Georgia, an aspirant country, progress in its preparations towards membership.
And, in an event that sent a powerful message, just two months after the summit on September 7 and 8, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) visited Georgia to discuss the practical way to implement the Warsaw decisions. It was the Council's fourth visit to our country.
Q: What are Georgia's immediate priorities in terms of implementation of reforms?
Kvirikashvili: Domestically, our biggest priority is implementing our Four Point Reform Agenda to further modernize our country in a way that benefits all Georgians and creates new jobs.
This plan prioritizes further tax liberalization to foster a growth friendly tax system, aligning Georgia's tax system with the Estonian Taxation Model. This model provides an exemption from the profit tax for all businesses that don't distribute profit. The new rules will come into force in January 2017.
We also plan to accelerate the development of major highways to integrate them into the regional transportation network. This will bolster Georgia's role on the new "Silk Road" and distinguish it as a prime tourist destination.
Tourism is one of the important engines of Georgia's economy and a big job creator. The number of tourists from all over the world to Georgia is increasing nearly every year. Our hotels are heavily booked and new hotels are a key feature of Georgia's infrastructure development.
We are also focused on reforming our education system to improve instruction in secondary schools and higher education in order to bridge the gap between professional supply and demand.
Finally, by fostering open governance we seek to further increase private sector involvement in the legislative process and modernize the delivery of public services.
Q: Are you concerned that Russia wields a veto over Georgia's NATO membership? Why is it important for the Alliance to avoid such pressure?
Kvirikashvili: The decision that Georgia will become a member of NATO was taken at the Bucharest Summit and has been reconfirmed by the subsequent decisions. Therefore, it's not a question of "whether" but "when" will Georgia became a member.
As it was underlined by the [NATO] Secretary General [Jens Stoltenberg] during the NAC's recent visit to Georgia, NATO has a fundamental principle that every sovereign nation has the right to decide its own path, including what kind of security arrangements or military alliance it enters. The decision on Georgia's membership will be taken solely by the Alliance members based on the merits of Georgia and how it can contribute to security of the Alliance.
NATO membership is the sovereign choice of the Georgian people and the ultimate goal of our government. We are determined to do our very best to achieve this objective. At the same time, we understand that we have a challenging road ahead and we are ready to follow every step to accomplish this goal.
At the same time, we firmly believe that embracing the European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Georgia and other countries of the region will send a strong signal that the re-emergence of spheres of influence and attempts to limit the foreign policy choices of sovereign states are unacceptable in the 21st century. Georgia's membership in NATO will widen the zone of security and stability in Europe, thus serving common interests of both the allies and Georgia. Georgia has proven its political determination and ability to contribute to common security and stability. We have demonstrated that we are not looking just for the security guarantees, but stand ready to share the burden of collective security.
Furthermore, our membership will have a stabilizing effect on the region, which would positively influence regional security. Georgia's success on its path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration will be a powerful testimony that democratic transformation and respect for independent foreign policy choices are possible in our region.
Q: In the run-up to the October elections, some political leaders in Georgia have suggested that Georgia officially reject joining NATO. Are pro-Western leaders in Georgia being hurt by delays on securing NATO membership and visa-free EU travel?
Kvirikashvili: Georgia's European choice is irreversible. An overwhelming majority of the people of Georgia consider the goal of joining EU and NATO to be a necessity that will lead to a higher standard of democracy, security, peace, and prosperity in our country and region.
Our people have supported the government in carrying out an ambitious reform agenda. Visa liberalization will be a tangible benefit for our citizens, who overwhelmingly support European integration. It will also serve as a crucial reminder to the people in the occupied territories of the advantages of our European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
Georgia will hold parliamentary elections on October 8. While there are policy differences between many of the political parties running for office, it is remarkable that all major parties are unified in their commitment to further integration with the West. Prior to the Warsaw Summit, all major political parties signed a joint appeal to NATO member states to support Georgia's European-Atlantic aspirations. In addition, over twenty NGOs have formed a Coalition for Euro-Atlantic Georgia. In the past few years, we have successfully conducted free and fair presidential and local elections, and we will complete the circle with the parliamentary elections.
The project of European integration is ongoing and it is not complete without Georgia. With respect to democracy promotion, development, peace-building and liberalization, the project of European integration is unmatched.
Georgia has gained many economic, political, and security benefits from pursuing the European and Euro-Atlantic integration path. The Georgian people are patient and clear-eyed about the timing, and I am confident they will continue to support pro-Western political leaders. In the final analysis, Georgia benefits both from the journey and the destination.
Q: What steps is Georgia taking to address German concerns regarding organized crime-a concern that has held up visa-free EU travel for Georgians?
Kvirikashvili: Georgia remains a committed, capable, and reliable partner for the EU in the fight against organized crime. To address crime, Germany and Georgia have intensified cooperation over the last two years-with concrete results to show. Crime rates of Georgian citizens living in Germany are among the lowest of all migrant groups residing in the country, and liberalizing short-term travel between Georgia and Germany poses no risk of increased criminal activities.
In recent years, Georgia has cracked down on organized crime domestically as well. We will continue to build and expand our relationship with Germany and other international law enforcement authorities to combat these issues and prevent any risks of networks operating abroad.
Russia has big influence on the governments of occupied Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia, - this statement was made by the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili in the hotel Rooms after the international conference Europe's Changing Geostrategic Landscape after the Warsaw Summit.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili talked about some incidents. According to him, the citizen of Georgia was killed at occupation line some months ago and the murderer is free. As Prime Minister said, he can’t see solution of this kind of problems because Russia has big influence on the governments of occupied Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia.