European Parliament ratifies EU-Georgia association deal

MEPs backed the Association Agreement by 490 votes to 76, with 57 abstentions., 18 Dec 2014 - 15:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

European Parliament has approved the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA).

The deal was approved today in Strasbourg. When it comes into force, the AA will help establish deeper political association and economic integration between the EU and Georgia, including the progressive opening up of their respective markets.

Members of European Parliament backed the AA by 490 votes in favour to 76 against, with 57 abstentions.

Georgian Prime Minister shared the news on his official Twitter account.

Georgia’s official delegation attended the official ratification ceremony in Strasbourg, France. The delegation was include the country’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia Tedo Japaridze and chairman of the European Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia Victor Dolidze.

Margvelashvili also congratulated Georgia and Europe on his official Twitter account.

Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who was invited by the European People’s Party (EPP), was also attended the session.

"The European Parliament’s ratification of the Association Agreement with Georgia has opened a new chapter in European Union relations with Georgia", said Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins, who is a rapporteur on Georgia.

"Georgia has made significant progress in reforms and strengthening its relations with the EU. We welcome recent judicial reforms designed to strengthen Georgia’s democratic institutions and support the efforts of Georgian society to achieve further democratization.”

Despite Georgia’s progress, Mamikins believed much work remained to be done. "Experience shows that Georgians prefer to solve their problems, not to avoid them.I think that Europe should now show real solidarity with Georgia and its people,” he added.

On another note, the European Parliament voted an accompanying non-legislative resolution on Georgia which passed by 491 votes to 84, with 63 abstentions.

Russian pressure on Abkhazia

In the accompanying resolution, MEPs stressed the agreement covered the entire internationally recognised territory of Georgia, although Russia continued to occupy Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).

The EP condemned the so-called ‘Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ treaty between Abkhazia and Russia, stated it was a step towards the full annexation of Abkhazia, and called on Russia to withdraw it.

Georgia’s reform agenda

The EP noted Georgia had made significant progress in reforms and like any other European state, it would have EU membership prospects if conditions were met. However, it urged Georgia to consolidate its reforms, end selective and political use of justice and work towards a society of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, solidarity and equality between women and men.