German Chancellor on Russian illegalities against Georgia: “Yes, this is occupation”

Earlier, she spoke about the situation in the occupied territories describing it as ‘unfair’ and ‘unacceptable’. Photo: Reuters, 24 Aug 2018 - 12:25, Tbilisi,Georgia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has assessed Russian illegalities against Georgia as an “occupation” after she was asked by a student attending a meeting at Tbilisi State University whether she has an issue with the word ‘ [she] does not use it in [her] assessments’.

“You are asking me if I assess this as an occupation? Yes, this is occupation”, Merkel replied.

Earlier, she spoke about the situation in the occupied territories describing it as ‘unfair’ and ‘unacceptable’.

“Personally, I often think about the resolution of the conflicts in Ukraine and Georgia. We should not tolerate this. Unfortunately, people are living in very bad conditions in these regions and first of all we should provide humanitarian assistance to them. When people need to receive health services or education, they should have the possibility of crossing the boundary line. When they are deprived of this possibility this is a very negative signal,” Merkel said.

As for the steps Europe is going to make to support Georgia Merkel made it clear that there will not be fast promises regarding EU membership.

“I want to say very openly, I am very glad and supportive of Georgia’s European ambitions. This is why the Association Agreement exists,  but from the European side I can not give you hasty promises. A candidate country must meet certain criteria for the EU to accept a new member. You know that currently the West Balkan countries are considered for perspective membership. The UK is going to leave the union soon and 27 countries will stay which will probably become 35 including Balkan countries. Georgia and Ukraine will be next deriving from their well expressed European perspective but currently there are not any talks about membership. We should reach this condition step by step. I would not say this process will be finalised in the next five years,” she said, adding that the forces against EU enlargement are trying to represent perspective member countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and the Balkan countries as if they are going to make problems after becoming the members.

Answering a student’s question about ultra-right wing political parties in Europe and their potential negative influence on the process of Georgia’s EU integration, Merkel has admitted that such tendencies are noticeable in Europe and “it causes concerns’.

“We are going to have a hard fight in terms of EU Parliament elections in May, 2019. The choice will be simple: pro-EU or anti-EU”, she said, adding that all countries deserve to be given a chance to develop and expressed her belief that all countries with pro-European aspirations should fight together for this idea.