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One day left

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 26
A day is left before signing the Association Agreement between Georgian and EU. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the President of the EU Council Herman Van Rompuy will sign the Association Agreement with the Georgian delegation chaired by Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili on 27 June, at 09:00, local time. The Georgian government is planning to dedicate a concert to the event in Tbilisi on the same day on Europe Square.

In the statement made two days before the signing ceremony, Barroso stated that the EU is going to sign this agreement, not only the remaining part with Ukraine, but also the full agreement with Georgia and Moldova, which shows that the EU is giving a helping hand to other parts of Europe that do not yet enjoy all the benefits of European integration.

The Georgian political spectrum is unanimous that signing the agreement will bring economic benefits to the country as well as provide a better political platform. It is also interesting that Russia “kept its promise” of not interfering in the signing process. However, there is one more not favorable “promise” in terms of the post-signing developments.

Russia has reminded Georgia that it is the second largest trade partner for Georgia and “advised” Georgian officials to consider the figure appropriately. There are speculations from analysts that after signing the Association Agreement, Russia might close its market again for Georgia. A couple of days ago, Foreign Minister Maia Panjkidze stated that it is less likely that Russia will impose an embargo and spoil the positive moves that have been achieved between the two countries. The parliamentary opposition calls this attitude naive.

The Georgian side plans to hold technical consultations with Russian experts in July to discuss the potential effects of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) on bilateral Georgian-Russian trade.

Commenting on the issue, Barroso has already stressed that if Russia has concerns and wants to “clarify” some of the aspects of the DCFTA the EU is ready to discuss them.

“We do not see these agreements as exclusive. Georgia can of course establish other agreements with other countries. We do not oppose Georgia’s relations with other countries. We are finalizing free trade agreements with many countries in the world that also have free trade agreements with other countries. We do not see trade as confrontation, we see trade as cooperation,” Barroso said.

“The agreement is not against anybody, it’s for free trade. We don’t see trade politically, we see trade as more opportunities for growth and jobs,” Barroso stated.