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The EU will help Georgia under the Spanish Presidency

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, March 5
Spain will make efforts to facilitate a better visa regime for Georgians and a free trade agreement between Georgia and the EU, Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Head of the EU Council of Ministers and Spanish Foreign Minister said after a meeting with Davit Bakradze, Chair of the Parliament of Georgia, on March 3.

A variety of Georgia-EU issues were discussed at the meeting, including security, the occupied territories, the prolongation of the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM), ongoing reforms and scheduled elections, Georgia-EU and Georgia-Spain relations. “Spain and the EU will support the non-recognition policy towards the separatist regions. Cooperation between the Parliament of Georgia and the European Parliament, one of the main organs of the EU, is very important for Georgia,” Moratinos said, adding that the development of the Eastern Partnership and the participation of Georgia in this programme are also important. Davit Bakradze thanked Miguel Angel Moratinos for Spain and the EU's stance on non-recognition. He expressed his hope that progress on topics such as visa facilitation for citizens of Georgia and free trade and association agreements will be made during Spain's Presidency of the EU.

Opposition representatives had an opportunity to discuss national security, the upcoming local elections and the transparency of these with Miguel Angel Moratinos on the same day. “I openly expressed protest at the decision recently taken by one of the EU member countries. It is entirely uncertain why one particular country should endanger the security of Eastern Europe for its commercial interests,” said Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian Democratic Movement, in reference to the French-Russian deal on the Mistral warship.

“Georgia wants peace but not at any price. Peace should not be achieved by destroying the country. The EU should not simply defend Georgia’s interests but be more active and urge Russia to fulfil the obligations it undertook before the EU. Reality shows that just claims of support for Georgia are not enough,” Targamadze said, stressing that the de-occupation of Georgia and the creation of guarantees of security are not only of interest of Georgia but prerequisites for stability in Eastern Europe as a whole.

Irakli Alasania, leader of the Alliance for Georgia, talked about depoliticising the law enforcement agencies, ensuring the freedom of the media, ensuring the accuracy of the voters lists and other election-related issues with Moratinos. He said that the upcoming local elections will be a test of Georgia's democracy and clarify whether we have formed an independent country or not. “Only verbal assistance from the EU is not enough. We need the EU to not only tell Saakashvili that elections should be democratic but give us strong support to ensure there are fair elections in our country,” said Salome Zourabichvili, the leader of The Way of Georgia. Zurab Noghaideli, leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia, focused on Georgia-EU relations, the further prospects for Georgia’s reunification and the EU’s participation in this process.

The Messenger asked political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili to summarise the results of Miguel Angel Moratinos’s visit. “Visa facilitation and a free trade agreement are traditional topics which the Government of Georgia discusses with the EU. Europe usually agrees to such discussions as a courtesy but has refused to take any particular steps forward yet. It is possible to achieve serious results but it is hard to get the EU interested in visa facilitation until Georgia elaborates a law on migration, and a free trade agreement can’t be achieved without particular changes being made in the Georgian Labour Code. Georgia also needs a proper anti-monopoly strategy, on which Europe has spent thousands of millions of dollars during the years,” Tsiskarishvili explained. He added that Europe is not a fast acting military organisation, as the citizens of Georgia so desire it to be.

Tsiskarishvili said that he had had the honour of meeting Moratinos during the latter's meeting with NGOs and had asked him to take into account the quality of democracy in neighbouring countries such as Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is much lower than in Georgia, and discuss each post-Soviet country as an individual state with its own culture, traditions and desires.