1 Jul 2016 - 17:48
Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili says granting visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone for Georgia will be a signal of the European Union’s (EU) "strong support for Georgia” and "a huge stimulus” for the country to continue on its Euro-Atlantic path and strive to achieve more success in the future.
Kvirikashvili spoke about Georgia’s European aspirations in front of more than 700 guests at the annual Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE PA), which is taking place in Tbilisi from July 1-5.
Georgia’s high official stressed the importance of Georgia gaining visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen Zone, and this was "one of the top issues” in the Georgia-EU recent agenda. Kvirikashvili said Georgia had "big expectations” for being granted a visa waiver and hoped the official process would be completed soon.
Granting visa-free travel for Georgia will be a signal of the EU’s strong support for Georgia and a huge stimulus for us. On one hand our people will feel that their European choice provides very definite benefits, and on the other hand, visa liberalisation will allow us to better share the best European achievements and values through undisturbed travel,” said Kvirikashvili.
He adamantly said Europe was "a very clear choice” of the Georgian people and everyone knew it was the "best way for the country’s democratic development, security, peace and welfare”.
In this context Kvirikashvili briefly mentioned the recent separation of the United Kingdom from the EU and said "despite the existing challenges, the EU’s power and strength will increase in the future”.
He then went on to speak about the OSCE’s role in ensuring European security and he praised the intentions of the organisation. However he said added efforts and new initiatives were needed inside the OSCE as Europe faced "very serious security challenges”.
For the first time after the Second World War Europe faced attempts of forcible changes of its borders. In these situations the OSCE is practically paralysed due to the insufficiency of making solutions. Dispite large protests no practical steps are being taken to suspend violations,” Kvirikashvili said.
We are in a challenging situation now. Despite the fact we‘re facing conflicts on our soil there is no OSCE presence in Georgia and we believe this is unacceptable. All this inactivity has also led to uncontrolled growth of armament in the South Caucasus,” Georgia’s Prime Minister said.
In front of the hundreds of foreign and local guests, Kvirikashvili highlighted the importance of regional stability, he condemned the terror attacks in Turkey and Europe and stressed Georgia was a big contributor to international peace and security through its participation in international peacekeeping missions.
A major portion of his speech concerned Georgia-Russia relations and the current difficult situation in Georgia’s two occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions. Kvirikashvili emphasised the fact Russia continued to violate all international laws and continued its occupation of Georgian territories.
He went on to brief the audience about the numerous instances where occupying forces kidnapped Georgian citizens, installed new so-called border signs and engaged in creeping occupation that took over more and more Georgian land. Furthermore, the Georgian population living in the de facto regions were deprived of getting education in their mother language and had their human rights continually violated, he said.
To emphasise this further Kvirikashvili brought up the recent murder of Georgian man Giga Otkhozoria by a Russian-controlled border guard on May 19 near the Abkhazia ABL, who has not yet been punished for the "brutal” murder.
More than 700 guests are attending the event. Photo by the Prime Minister's webpage.
The challenges and risks speak about the necessity of joint actions and new visions. All our efforts will be directed towards peacefully solving conflicts,” said Georgia’s PM, adding when the country gained a visa-free travel regime to the EU or other benefits as it moved closer to Europe, all this success would be shared with the people of Abkhazian and Tskhinvali regions.
On a final note PM Kvirikashvili mentioned the upcoming Parliamentary Elections set for October 8, 2016 and said the Government was doing its best to ensure these elections were held in a fair, transparent and democratic manner without any violence.
He said all international observers recognised Georgia’s 2013 Presidential and 2014 Local Government Elections as fair and transparent, and the upcoming Parliamentary Elections would be held to even higher standards.
This was the responsibility of the Georgian Government and he welcomed all international observers to monitor the Parliamentary race.