Conference ‘Georgia’s European Way’ opens : Georgia is very serious about its EU future, says PM

Georgia’s Prime Minister opened the 13th international conference ‘Georgia’s European Way’ this morning. Photo by the Prime Minister’s webpage., 14 Jul 2016 - 16:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

Today an international conference "Georgia’s European Way” opened in coastal Batumi, where hundreds of Georgia’s allies and representatives from the European Union (EU) are gathering for the two-day event. 

The 13th annual conference dedicated to Georgia’s European future and regional challenges began this morning with a welcome speech by Georgia’s Prime Minister, which focused on Georgia’s European intentions and the challenges facing the country.

In his opening remarks Kvirikashvili stressed it was important the conference took place in Batumi, which he said was a "European town … at the crossroads of Greek, Roman, and Ottoman civilizations from ancient times”.

Georgia is Europe,” he said and stressed Europe was the end goal and the irreversible choice of Georgian people. 

Kvirikashvili then highlighted Georgia’s progress to Europe and said the country had made "impressive” efforts towards full membership of the EU.

In this context Kvirikashvili spoke about Georgia’s steady progress in implementing the Georgia-EU Association Agreement  (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) deals.

He also stressed Georgia had successfully fulfilled all its requirements for visa-free travel to the EU and the country had significantly overhauled its legal and electoral systems. 

Moreover, we met and applied many of the AA provisions even before the agreement officially entered into full force on July first,” Kvirikashvili said. 
We urge EU members to understand that Georgia's commitment to Europe represents not a new problem for the EU to solve but a visible demonstration of everything right with the Union. Georgia does not mean more injury to the EU. Rather, it is a useful tourniquet to an injury occurring elsewhere,” Kvirikashvili said.

He hoped the process of assimilating Georgia into the EU would happen "at the earliest possible opportunity”. 

In his speech Kvirikashvili also spoke about the current situation in Georgia’s occupied territories Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and condemned Russia’s continuing continuing occupying activities there. 

The Conference brought together local and foreign top figures. Photo by Prime Minister's webpage. 

He said it was very unbeneficial that the only international monitoring mission operating in Georgia – the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) – had no access to the breakaway regions and that there was no presence of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) in Georgia. 

We must, therefore, intensify our efforts to restore a comprehensive OSCE presence in Georgia,” Kvirikashvili said. 

When speaking about the October 8 Parliamentary Elections in Georgia, Kvirikashvili promised the election race would be conducted at high, European standards. 

The International Conference in Batumi has been organised annually by the State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration since 2007. This year‘s partner of the event is GLOBSEC, a Slovak think-tank that focused on domestic and international security. 

The participants of the conference included EU Commissioner for the European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Deputy Director-General in Charge of Directorate (Neighbourhood East) Katarina Mathernova, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Crisis in Georgia Herbert Salber and many other local and foreign top figures.