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EU/GEORGIA : EU INTEGRATION TBILISI'S ONLY ALTERNATIVE, SAYS PM.

European and Euro-Atlantic integration is Georgia's only alternative if it is to succeed on its path towards democracy, the country's Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said, on 12 July. "Our people know well that Western integration is the only path that will enable our country to promote democracy," Ivanishvili told participants in the 10th international conference Georgia's European way'.

Georgia is expecting to initial an association agreement (AA) with the EU in November at the Vilnius summit on the Eastern Partnership. Negotiations over the AA started in July 2010 and were concluded on 11 July, Ivanishvili said. "Our cooperation with the European Union has entered a new stage today, as negotiations on the EU-Georgia association agreement have been finalised," Ivanishvili said. "This is a historic moment in Georgia-EU relations. From now on, we elevate our relations to a qualitatively new level, ensuring the irreversibility of Georgia's integration into the European Union," he added.

However, the European Commission has a different opinion. "We are very close" to finalising the deal, Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said at the same conference. Following a bilateral meeting with the Georgian premier, on 11 July, Fule told the press that "the run-up to the Vilnius summit is also a crucial phase when Georgia is expected to demonstrate its genuine commitment to the European path". He stressed that the EU needs to see the "further strengthening of Georgia's democratic institutions, promoting political pluralism and media freedom".

And the EU is ready to assist the Georgian authorities in this respect. On 11 July, Fule signed a 16 million financing agreement for a four-year programme "enhancing Georgia's capacity for border management and migration".

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Conference notes
Date:Jul 15, 2013
Words:273
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