Foreign Minister of Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski, said after meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili that the EU may sign Association Agreement with Georgia in 2014.
The Polish Foreign Minister and the Georgian PM met in Latvia on September 7 on the sideline of the Riga Conference, an annual high-level policy and security forum.
Sikorski, who arrived in Riga from Vilnius where EU foreign ministers informal meeting was held, said it was agreed to sign the Association Agreement, which also includes deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, with Georgia before the mandate of current European Commission expires, provided Georgia meets all the criteria.
The current European Commission's term of office runs until October 31, 2014.
Georgia expects to initial – a step before the official signature, the Association Agreement at the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in late November, 2013.
Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis said after meeting with his Georgian counterpart in Riga on September 6 that his country supports the initialing of the Association Agreement with Georgia at the upcoming Vilnius summit in order to sign it at the next summit of the Eastern Partnership in 2015 in Riga, when Latvia will hold the EU presidency.
But as the Polish Foreign Minister indicated on September 7, there was a readiness within the EU to consider signing of the agreement earlier if Georgia fulfills the conditions.
“I am very glad to be able report to you that yesterday in Vilnius we agreed that if conditions are fulfilled and Georgia initials the Association Agreement, the [European] Commission has undertaken to have the papers ready for signature before that expires, which I hope is another argument for the Prime Minister to persuade the Georgian people to make the sacrifices that will be necessary to modernize the Georgian economy and to make it fully compatible with the largest free market on earth – the European Union,” Foreign Minister Sikorski told journalists after meeting the Georgian PM.
PM Ivanishvili said it “is a very good news for me.”
“The message is that if we work hard, we will be able to sign [the Association Agreement] before the current Commission’s [mandate] expires – that’s a huge achievement and that’s a confirmation of our success,” PM Ivanishvili said, adding it also demonstrates that the EU has acknowledged his government’s “democratic” path.
The Eastern Partnership, which involves Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, was one of the issues discussed by the EU foreign ministers during the informal meeting in Vilnius on September 6-7.
“The member states express their solidarity with the countries of the Eastern Partnership programme that have chosen the European path and strongly support them. Russia’s pressure on Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries will increase, so it is important to keep this item on the EU agenda. We must consider ways to help the countries withstand such pressure,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevičius, whose country holds EU’s rotating presidency.
EU foreign minister’s informal session on September 7 in Vilnius was also attended by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said that the Eastern Partnership “is a very important economic plan that will raise the standards of doing business, increase the trade and most importantly increase jobs.”
“It’s good for the economic development,” Kerry said after meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart. “And we talked about how that can continue to expand, and we are committed to working with Lithuania in an effort to help and move that forward. And I will have conversations with Foreign Minister Hague in England about ways in which we can all join together to try to do that.”
On bilateral Georgian-Polish relations, the Polish Foreign Minister said after the meeting with PM Ivanisvhili: “I am very grateful to the Prime Minister for the opportunity to review once again the very excellent state of Polish-Georgian relations.”
“The Prime Minister came to Poland recently [in July] and had very good conversation with [the Polish PM] Donald Tusk and we are executing the agenda that the two Prime Ministers have agreed of sending observers to Georgia’s president elections and of supporting Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Sikorski said.
PM Ivanishvili said that he had a “very successful” visit to Poland, where he “befriended Donald Tusk.”
On the second day of his visit to Latvia, PM Ivanishvili participated in the Riga Conference.
Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, who was also in Latvia on September 7 for the Riga Conference, wrote on his Twitter: “Dinner discussion with Georgia PM Bidzina Ivanishvili. We stress concern over rule of law and tendencies to selective justice.”
On September 8 the Georgian PM will start a two-day visit to Estonia, where he will meet President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, speaker of parliament Ene Ergma, PM Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts.
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