Top EU diplomat declares support for Georgia in letter to Foreign Minister Panjikidze

Catherine Ashton's term as EU High Representative ends on November 1., 29 Oct 2014 - 15:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Union (EU) is a "reliable” and "committed” partner to Georgia as the country moves towards political association and economic integration with the EU, a top European diplomat says.

Outgoing EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, who also served as Vice President of the European Commission, sent a farewell letter to Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze.

In the letter Ashton, whose mandate was drawing to an end, thanked Panjikidze for the "excellent cooperation” the parties had "enjoyed over the past years”.

"Through our joint engagement we have steadily strengthened and expanded the bilateral relations between the EU and Georgia culminating in the signature of our Association Agreement (AA) in June,” the letter read.

Ashton was confident that the provisional application of the AA, which included the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), would deliver substantial benefits to both the EU and Georgia.

"I have no doubt that Georgia will continue is ambitious European reform agenda, including our common Association Agenda, and that we will see progress towards visa liberalisation, strengthening of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in the near future,” the outgoing high representative said.

Ashton further assured Georgia’s Foreign Minister the EU remained "firmly committed” to its policy of non-recognition and engagement.

"We support Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders as well as its engagement with the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with the goal of longer term conflict resolution,” Ashton’s letter read.

"The EU will remain a reliable and committed partner to you and your country while pursuing our joint objective of Georgia’s political association and economic integration with the EU.”

Ashton’s term will end on November 1. The diplomat will be replaced by former Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini.