President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has called on Georgia “to advance substantially” its reforms, including in rule of law, judiciary and prosecutor’s office, and to foster “political climate of respect.”
Speaking after the meeting with Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili in Brussels on February 26, Tusk said: “Georgia is one of the frontrunners of the Eastern Partnership. This is not a compliment, but a fact.”
He said that implementation of the Association Agreement was one of the main topics of discussion with the Georgian PM. Tusk said that it was “an important decision” by Georgia to sign this agreement, which also includes deep and comprehensive free trade treaty, with the EU last June.
“The time has come for Georgia to advance substantially its reform agenda in vital areas such as the rule of law and the judiciary, including the creation of an independent prosecutor’s office,” President of the European Council said.
“Fostering a political climate of respect and cross-party dialogue is another area where I have encouraged progress,” he added.
“Implementing this Agreement will also help build a credible track record for the country in light of its European aspirations,” Tusk said.
Georgian PM Garibashvili, who paid one-day visit to Brussels on February 26, said after the meeting with Tusk that process of Georgia’s “European and Euro-Atlantic integration is irreversible.”
“It is the primary objective of my government to demonstrate to our citizens that the European agenda delivers; so we are committed to the continued effective implementation of the Association Agreement,” the Georgian PM said.
In Brussels Garibashvili also met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker; EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, as well as European Parliament President Martin Schulz and chairman of European Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs Elmar Brok. The Georgian PM also met his Moldovan counterpart Chiril Gaburici, who was also in Brussels for talks with the EU officials.
European Council President Donald Tusk reiterated EU’s support to Georgia’s territorial integrity.
“I encouraged the Prime Minister to reach out to the entities [breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia] and pursue a two-track approach of both non-recognition and engagement,” Tusk said.
He also said that the EU continues to “follow closely implications” of Russia’s “alliance” treaties with the breakaway regions.
“This agreement violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also contradicts the principles of international law and Russia’s international commitments,” Tusk said.
PM Garibashvili said that Russia’s decision to sign these treaties with breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia confirms Moscow’s “intention to actually step-by-step annex these parts of Georgia.”
Visa liberalisation dialogue between Georgia and the EU was also discussed.
PM Garibashvili said Georgia is committed to fulfill all the requirements under the visa liberalisation action plan with the EU and expects the European Commission to recommend visa waiver by the time of Eastern Partnership summit in Riga in late May.
On visa liberalisation, Tusk said: “We are making good progress on this… And I hope that at our next meeting in Riga, we can be successful in this context.”