Press Releases Georgia: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell after the Association Counci

Georgia: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell after the Association Counci

Let me be the first one talking to welcome you, Prime Minister [Irakli] Kobakhidze here in Brussels. It is your first visit abroad and coming to Brussels demonstrates that you are taking [the] Georgian path to the European Union very seriously.

This is our first Association Council with Georgia as a candidate country, and we have entered a new strategic phase in our relations.

This discussion today – I am sure you share with me this approach, together with the Commissioner in charge of [Neighbourhood and] Enlargement [Olivér Várhelyi] – has highlighted our mutual commitment to reach irreversible progress on Georgia’s accession path. Irreversible, but hard work starts in front of you.

Being a candidate country requires a new level of efforts, and also increases the responsibilities of the government, the opposition, of everybody. The civil society, all parties. Every Georgian has to be engaged in the reform progress.

Allow me to convey three messages because we have to be telegraphic. Time is running, and we have been discussing since this morning.

First, you have to accelerate the implementation of reforms, including those of the Association Agreement, to meet the nine steps of our [European] Commission’s recommendation.

And for that, you have the asset of a vibrant civil society and it is important to have everybody – as I said – on board.

This requires to take decisive steps to decrease political tensions.

Second, our Union is a Union based on common values and principles. This foundation has become increasingly important because we are living in a very difficult and even dangerous geopolitical context.

We welcome your strategic choices towards the European Union’s membership. We note the increase, slight increase, but increase at the end, in alignment with our foreign and security policy decisions.

We expect a significant increase in this alignment in the coming years.

We are also worried by the proliferation of anti-Western disinformation and rhetoric [in Georgia], and we encourage you to redouble efforts to fight information manipulation and foreign interference. We are going to see more of that in the next European Union elections and maybe in your elections too.

And the third one is, this year will be an important test for Georgia’s democracy. I link [it] to the previous reference to your electoral process.

We welcome the electoral reforms undertaken so far and encourage you to finalise them well ahead of the upcoming elections, addressing all relevant Venice Commission and ODIHR recommendations for free, fair and competitive parliamentary elections.

Last but not least, [at] our meeting today [we] discussed how we can jointly strengthen Georgia’s resilience.

We are fully committed to your sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have a Special Representative for the region [Toivo Klaar, EUSR for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia]. We have an EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia. It is our longest [serving] mission in the region. I think they do an important work on a daily basis for your people.

We have also massively strengthened our security and defence cooperation with Georgia. Through the European Peace Facility, with support in engineering, logistics and cyber-defence [capabilities] which amounts to [almost] €63 million to date. This support will increase this year.

We have a wide range of cooperation, and the last one is your proposal to join the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). Something that should be agreed by the end of the year.

Prime Minister, when I visited Georgia last September, I was struck by the high number of EU flags everywhere in the streets of Tbilisi. They were full. I thought it was for me, but no. [I thought] it was a welcome for the EU High Representative. No, it was because they were there before me coming and after me leaving. It shows the strong commitment to the European Union of your citizens.

You have the responsibility to deliver on these expectations, and we have also the responsibility to seize with you this historic opportunity and step-up our efforts for Georgia becoming member of the European Union, to increase your resilience, in full respect of your independence and sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

Thank you.


My question is about geopolitical investment for our common future, the perspective of future enlargement, and the symbolic date set by President [of the European Council, Charles] Michel of 2030. We often hear in Brussels that, at this stage, the organisation is not ready to accept new members, and also the organisation itself must prepare for new members along with the candidates. Can you tell us more about the future window of opportunity we are waiting for so much? When is the European Union going to open the door for us?

As the Commissioner [Várhelyi] said, and everybody has to be aware: the door has been opened. [Now] you have to go through the door. And, through the door means what everybody knows. There is a merit-based process, conditions have to be met, reforms have to be done. You cannot ask for more. Do not look for the 5th foot of the cat. The door is open, and it is a matter of fulfilling the requirements that are being set for everybody.

Minister Borrell, has your Georgian partner informed you of any threats from Ukraine? Because the Prime Minister previously talked about his intention to pass this information to international partners.

Well, I do not know if you have upgraded or downgraded me by calling me Minister. Maybe it is more than High Representative, maybe it is less. In any case, I am happy to answer your question.

Yes, we would like Ukraine and Georgia to have the best relations. [If there are] any issues between them, the only one who is taking benefit is Russia. And certainly, I will do my best and pass messages to the Ukrainian side of the good will of Georgia to have the best possible relations.

About the second front, I think it is a long story. Nobody seriously is considering that, and I do not see any call for that coming from Ukraine or from nowhere else.

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