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Key Aspects of Joint Declaration of Estonia and Georgia

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Friday, November 3
To support Georgia’s territorial integrity and its inspirations towards the European Union and NATO have been one of the main purposes of Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid’s visit to Georgia this week.

At every meeting held during this visit, Kaljulaid underlined the issue of occupied territories and stressed that the problem is not only for Georgia.

“Russia’s military attacks against Georgia in 2008 and against Ukraine in 2014 were not just attacks on the future of two countries, but against the value-based security architecture in general,” stated Estonian President Kaljulaid. To emphasize her support towards the issue, Kersti Kaljulaid visited the occupation line of breakaway Tskhinvali Region/de facto South Ossetia in the village of Khurvaleti.

The visit of Estonian delegation has a huge importance for Georgia. Many politicians and analysts regard Estonia as a role model for Georgia on its way of transformation.

Estonia is a successful example of a post-soviet country, which reformed its institutions and effectively passed a path for integration in the EU and NATO. Now, it is ready to extend its help to other post-soviet states that are facing similar challenges. Therefore, signing a joint declaration between the Presidents of Georgia and Estonia on cooperation and Estonia’s support towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration is of high importance for Georgia especially as its EU and NATO aspirations are periodically threatened due to its geopolitical location.

The joint declaration focuses on several key issues:

• The historic ties between Georgia and Estonia dates back to the 19th century when first Estonians settled in Georgia. The two countries launched diplomatic relations after gaining independence;

• Both countries share European vales: democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Therefore, Estonia supports Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations;

• The Presidents reaffirmed their willingness to strengthen existing economic, trade and investment ties. In this context, the Association Agreement with the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) was noted as the cornerstone for future progressive development of relations between the states;

• The importance of Estonia's support towards a domestic reforms process in Georgia was also underlined. President Kaljulaid noted that supporting Georgia, is one of the main priorities of Estonia’s foreign policy;

• Georgia is having a substantial progress in the EU integration process and abolishment of visa requirements for Georgian citizens demonstrated the fact. Estonia supports this process and continues contributing to Georgia's deeper political and economic integration with the European Union;

• Estonia praises Georgia's active participation in NATO’s Allied Operations and supports the decision of the Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a member of the organization.

• Estonia acknowledges Georgia's importance in maintaining security of the Black Sea region, which is geopolitically important for the Euro-Atlantic security;

• Both sides stressed their concern over unlawful activities of the Russian Federation in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Estonia supports Georgia's peaceful conflict resolution policy and underlines the importance of Geneva International Discussions. Estonian contribution to the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) is highly appreciated by Georgia. Both sides noted the importance and necessity of EUMM’s access to occupied territories of Georgia.

Among members of the EU, Estonia is one of the biggest supporters of Georgia. If other members of the EU and NATO are as supportive of Georgia as Estonia, the integration process will become faster than it is today.

On the other hand, sharing the country’s experience, which is similar to Georgia in many aspects, is very useful. Estonia is a small country with only 1.4 million population and similar to Georgia, it gained its independence in 1991. After 13 years of independence, Estonia became a member of NATO and the EU in 2004. It’s true that Georgia has lessons to learn from its ally. After 26 years of independence, Georgia still needs to better reform its institutions and gain stronger international support to accelerate the process of integration into western alliances.