European Commission head Juncker to Georgian president: your first visit to Brussels reveals will of Georgians

  • European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker stated that Georgia’s progress is fast and uninterrupted to the EU. Photo: President’s press office., 23 Jan 2019 - 12:01, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker told Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili in Brussels yesterday that her first official visit to EU headquarters was “symbolic,” revealing the will of the Georgian people to be with the EU.

The visit is a gesture which we greatly welcome. We support Georgia’s European intentions, as we see very well that the country is progressing quickly,” Juncker stated.

Juncker noted that in November 2017, he told the Georgian government that they are the only government of a non-EU member state with whom the European Commission has a meeting format.

Such meetings will continue,” Juncker said.

Margaritis Schinas, the chief spokesperson of the European Commission called Zurabishvili’s first official visit abroad ‘tangible proof of Georgia's firm European commitment’ on his Twitter account:

Jean-Claude Juncker stated that Georgia-EU relations are progressing in different fields:

  • Georgian export to the EU is increasing fast.
  • Georgians enjoy the Georgia-EU visa free deal which was introduced in 2017 – 300,000 Georgians have already used the opportunity.
  • The Erasmus+ educational programme will further expand, and 3,600 Georgian students are already involved in it with 2,000 students from EU member states.
  • The macro-financial assistance of the EU to Georgia will be preserved as it is now.

Juncker stated that he was concerned by the current situation in the two occupied regions of Georgia Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).

We believe that it will be necessary for us to speak about the necessity of protecting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in every possible situation,” Juncker said.

Zurabishvili thanked Juncker for the “warm reception” and invited him to Georgia’s coastal city of Batumi this year to participate in a conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership initiative.

She stated that choosing Brussels as her  first foreign destination in the role had a “clear and symbolic connotation.”

My first visit to Brussels reflected the priorities which are written in the Georgian constitution. The priorities refer to Georgia’s European integration, integration into a space to which Georgia belongs because of its culture, spirit and identity,” Zurabishvili said.

She stated that Juncker’s participation in the Batumi conference will be an opportunity to summarise the progress that has already been achieved and making new goals.

Zurabishvili spoke about the importance of the European Union Monitoring mission in Georgia, which is a “unique mission at the occupation line.”

The existence of the mission is vitally important for the people living on both sides of the occupation line. The mission empowers the feeling of security in them. The mission empowers the felling in the Georgian government and the Georgian people that the EU physically stands with us,” Zurabishvili said.

Zurabishvili said that Georgia will be able to cope with current security and territorial challenges with the help of foreign partners.

During her visit to Brussels Zurabishvili also met with the EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Georgian students and members of diaspora.