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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

 

Mikheil Janelidze: Our ambition is to make Georgia a full member of the EU. For this political decision we need our country to be prepared as much as possible in the practical aspects – to introduce EU standards and to converge with the EU

27.03.2017 Tbilisi - As a result of systematic reforms implemented over the recent years and as a manifestation of enormous trust and support extended to Georgia, our citizens will be able to travel visa-free to the Schengen states. In the modern globalized world it is supremely important for the citizens of Georgia to travel easily in the territory of Europe, since a free movement within Europe means traveling without barriers in the free world.Introduction of the visa-free travel will facilitate the relations between the peoples, help deepening business ties, activate exchange programs for students and establish a partnership between the representatives of various fields of activities. It is especially important that all benefits related to visa-free travel will apply to our compatriots that reside in the occupied territories. Visa-free movement in the EU countries is one of the tangible benefits of the association of our country with the European Union. It is gratifying that the overwhelming majority of our society has a very correct understanding of what EU is, what the true European values are, as well as of benefits stemming from close relationship with the European Union. Although, it is important for our citizens to have even more information about particular projects, programs and aid packages of the EU that have been in place since the restoration of our independence and are about to increase in scope. The programs implemented by the European Union starting from 1992 have geared to the support of reforms, strengthening institutions, attracting investments, fighting poverty, ensuring food security, development of infrastructure and human rights protection. Over the mentioned period, within the framework of a number of programs, the EU has extended to Georgia about 2 billion euro in aid. After the signing of the Associated Agreement (AA) in 2014, financial and technical aid from the European Union has been directed toward supporting the implementation of obligations envisaged by the AA. The annual support from EU amounts to 100 million euro. This assistance is being implemented by means of numerous instruments, like budget allocations, direct grants and strengthening institutions. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which is the inalienable part of the AA and facilitates the production of high-standard Georgian merchandise, allows the Georgian businesses to export freely their products to the EU market, without any additional fees or technical barriers. Within the framework of bilateral assistance, the EU is implementing the agricultural development program ENPARD, which has set its goal on supporting cooperation, which in turn enhances the competitiveness of local products. This agricultural program envisages the assistance of up to 110 million euro in the sphere of agriculture, which implies producing high quality and competitive goods, having entire families employed and rising income in the countryside. EU assistance in 2017-2020 will mainly focus on the development of private sector, promotion of small- and medium-scale business enterprises, so that the private sector fulfils the necessary criteria and employs the new trade opportunities with the EU as much as possible. In this context, one has to mention a new EU program – “DCFTA Facility”, within which the EU assists small- and medium-scale businesses in Georgia, so that they succeed in attracting necessary investments to build up the regulations envisaged by the DCFTA. The mentioned program will enable the entrepreneurs to bring the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements in accordance with the EU norms and assist them to moving to new standards. The efforts of the government of Georgia have produced tangible and impressive results against the backdrop of continuous assistance on the part of the EU. Today, European standards and norms are being established in virtually in all spheres. This process proved to be a significant incentive to the trade ties between the EU and Georgia. According to preliminary data, the trade turnover between Georgia and EU amounted to $3.6 billion in 2016, which is a 14% rise compared to the previous year. Apart from this, the EU countries accounted for 30% of Georgia’s total trade turnover. The foreign direct investment to Georgia from the EU countries amounted to $471 million in 2016. Last year, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) implemented the record number of investments. Apart from this, the European Investment Bank (EIB), which explores the possibilities of infrastructure and agricultural processing, started its activities in Georgia. The number of international visitors from EU countries is also on the rise. 263,076 EU citizens visited Georgia in 2016, 8.6% more than the year before. It is clear that integration with EU enables not only increased economic output and income, but also the development of new technologies, innovations and highly qualified labor resources. This will increase the competitiveness of local employees in the labor market and will enhance their sustainability in the face of contemporary challenges. Georgia has been successfully employing the regional programs in the areas of energy (INOGATE), transportation (TRACECA), environment and some other fields.   The EU has also been putting into practice some thematic instruments, like the ERASMUS+ program. A number of programs for undergraduates, as well as those for doctoral students and academic staff become accessible as a result of mentioned initiative. The ERASMUS+ program enables academic staff to improve and upgrade their study programs and to read lectures in a variety of disciplines in the universities of Europe. The new generation that is well educated and in possession of modern skills is the prerequisite of democratic and modern Georgia. In 2015, Georgia became an associate partner of the EU program “Creative Europe”. This is a 7-year EU program, which opens up additional opportunities for Georgian cultural organizations to develop professional partnerships with their counterparts in the EU states. At the moment, six projects with a cumulative worth of 209 thousand euro are underway within the framework of this initiative. In 2016, Georgia joined the program Horizon 2020 as an associated member. This program opens up unique opportunities to the scientific community of Georgia to develop cooperation with the EU member states in the areas of innovation and research. At this stage, we are taking part in 14 projects, with the total worth of 1.3 million euro.Our ambition is to make Georgia a full member of the EU. For this political decision we need our country to be prepared as much as possible in the practical aspects – to introduce EU standards and to converge with the EU. This is only possible by means of implementation of comprehensive vision and action plan. We do have such a plan and we are willing to spare no effort for its implementation. The plan is based on six basic directions: 

  • Successful implementation of the institutional and legislative reforms undertaken within the Association Agreement, which ensures the approximation of our legislation and institutional practice with those of Europe as much as possible;
  • Integration with the specialized agencies of the EU. Membership in these agencies is mandatory for the EU state. It will enable our agencies to receive technical assistance and know-how from the European colleagues, strengthen their institutional capacity and reach high interoperability at the earlier stage;   
  • Enhancing the efficiency of Georgia’s participation in EU programs.Raising the awareness to Georgian citizens and potential beneficiaries about the opportunities to participate in the existing programs and get involved in new ones. This will allow Georgian citizens to receive practical benefits from EU integration process, to become incorporated in economic, cultural, scientific and educational fields with European partners, as well as access the European Funds.
  • Transition from the stage of negotiations with EU structures, to the level of cooperation, meaning enhanced regular dialogue between counterpart structures of Georgia and the EU on sectoral policy formulation and implementation. This will create new opportunities for Georgia’s sectoral development in accordance with the European policy.
  • Deepening of dialogue in Defence and Security fields will help to assess our role in common European Security and to have the highest possible coordination with European Security and Defence structures to strengthen the security in our region. Georgia as one of the contributors of International peace and stability and has been actively participating in EU missions starting from 2014. It is worth to note, that in 2016, for the first time Georgia featured in the EU’s “Global Strategy” of Foreign and Security Policy. Document highlights Georgia as regional leader and notes, that Georgia’s success in peaceful and stable democratic development stimulates the positive changes in Eastern Neighborhood.
  • Together with the political, legislative and institutional integration, it is important to achieve the physical integration with the EU internal market that means integration of such areas as transport, energy and communication. That will have a positive effect not only for Georgia but for the whole region.
  • EU and Georgia’s cooperation reveals that EU and Georgia’s interests are synchronized and rely on common values, which is the ground for Georgia to become the EU member state. 

     
     

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