18 Jul 2014 - 18:37
Georgia’s Parliament today ratified the Georgia-European Union (EU) Association Agreement (AA) at the extraordinary session of the Parliament in Kutaisi, the second largest city of the country.
Parliament ratified the AA with 123 votes in favour and zero against. The AA was signed in Brussels on June 27 with the aim of setting up an all-embracing framework to conduct bilateral relations.
Georgia’s Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili was the first to congratulate the audience in Georgia’s Parliament and all people of Georgia as the country formally ratified the AA.
Usupashvili was followed by the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, who said he was happy he had seen "such a unanimity in Parliament where the Government, majority and the political opposition composed by one idea”.
Georgia's PM Irakli Garibashvili signed the deed of the Association Agreement after the ratification of the document by the Parliament on July 18, 2014. Photo by PM's Press Office.
The AA, which included the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), was ratified in front of local and international observers including Georgia’s President and Prime Minister, Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria and Latvia, the second speaker of the Austrian Parliament Karlheinz Kopf, as well as the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule.
Georgia’s Foreign Minister, who opened the session, said she was reminded by the inspirational words of the first Chancellor of West Germany Konrad Adenauer.
"Adenauer once said: ‘The unity of Europe was the dream of a few. It became the hope of many. Today it has become a necessity for all of us. It is necessary for our security, for our freedom, for our existence as a nation and as an intellectual and creative international community’,” Panjikidze said.
The Foreign Minister believed Georgia was an integral part of European civilization. "Being "European" is nothing more than a set of values that makes Europe,” she said.
Georgia's MFA during her speech in the Parliament on July 18, 2014. Photo by Facebook page of Georgia's MFA
Meanwhile when Commissioner Fule took to the podium, he spoke about the benefits of the AA and said Georgia would transform in the coming years. "Georgia introduced reforms which will progressively bring the country into the European mainstream – economically, politically and socially,” Fule said.
In addition, he focused on the agriculture tradition of Georgia and expressed his belief that "Georgian wine would capture the honourable place on the world market”.
"But Georgia’s agriculture sector needs the modernization to become more competitive on the European market,” Fule added.
He believed the Association Agreement was an investment by today's Georgians in tomorrow.
"Young Georgians, and those not yet born, will grow up in a country which is stable, secure, and an increasingly prosperous part of a wider European continent,” Fule added.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili also addressed the audience in Parliament and said he believed Georgia had proved it was capable of being "a reliable partner” for Georgia’s Western friends.
"We have stated on numerous occasions that it is Georgia’s unwavering will to take its honourable place in the unified European family,” he said.
"The signing of the Association Agreement marks a new stage in our European integration, an interesting and challenging path to Europe that requires hard work, selflessness, and solidarity from all of us; the Government, political forces, and society as a whole.”
Garibashvili said he was proud to say Georgia was an example of a country that had implemented successful democratic reforms and was ready to be the guarantor of peace and cooperation in the region.
Meanwhile, Vice Premier and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, spoke about the DCFTA document in his speech in today’s session. This part of the AA is expected to be implemented from September 1.
Kvirikashvili believed the removal of national barriers to allow free movement of goods within the EU was one of the principles enshrined in the AA.
"Georgia will receive three basic freedoms out of four guaranteed by the EU including the free movement of goods, service and capital,” he said. "After implementing the DCFTA, Georgian products and services originated in Georgia will have the opportunity to enter the market that incorporates 28 countries and 500 million consumers.
(From left) the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule; the second speaker of the Austrian Parliament Karlheinz Kopf; Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria Kristian Vigenin and Foreign minister of Latvia Edgar Rinkevics at the ratification ceremony of EU-Georgia’s Association Agreement by the Parliament of Georgia. Photo by Georgia’s PM Press Office.
”Meanwhile, the second speaker of the Austrian Parliament Karlheinz Kopf also addressed Georgian Parliament. In his speech Karheinz said this was "a historic moment” for Georgia, for the Georgian people and also for Europe.
"It’s a very important and historic decision for the future of your country and the whole region,” he said. "It gives people a new perspective for the development of peace, of independence and for the development of wealth.”
"In recent years Georgia has made huge progress, willingness and dedication to change the country and develop further [and] has marked the transition progress. And this decision is the next step now of a long-lasting way of reforms and transformation in the legal system, in your economy and another fields,” he said.
EU’s Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have already been ratified by Romania, Lithuania and Latvia. The agreement has to be ratified by all the EU-member states and the European Parliament.