TBILISI, DFWatch — The EU ambassador to Georgia thinks the ongoing process of transfer of power is another test for Georgia, which will be successfully passed.
Georgia’s National Platform, the largest union of local non-government organizations (NGOs) with support from the EU, on Monday held a conference about political processes and perspectives after the parliamentary elections.
They had invited representatives of the National Movement party, the Georgian Dream coalition, NGOs and foreign diplomats in order to engage the parties in discussion.
Philip Dimitrov, EU Ambassador to Georgia, said much has been done but much remains.
The EU’s attitude towards Georgia is, has been and will be very serious, he says.
“Our demands have been from time to time very high. They will go even higher, because we believe that Georgia is a country which can and should get closer and closer to the EU, develop on the way to European and Euro Atlantic integration.”
He said Georgia has no reasons to be pessimistic, because the EU has clearly been sending a signal and will continue sending this signal as long as Georgia needs progress in its democratic development. It can rely on progress in the relationship with the EU.
Dimitrov reminded listeners that there have been started talks about association agreement, and negotiations for a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement as well as a dialog about liberalization of visa rules.
“This is something which is going to be materialized.”
Dimitrov also drew attention to the action plan called Eastern Partnership. This is the time to make steps and put forth demands to help the development in this direction, he said.
The Ambassador noted that a new action plan is almost ready, which will cover the period from 2014 to 2020, years which will be important for Georgia to make steps towards Euro integration.
The EU will continue its financial support for Georgia and will allocate 670 million euros annually, which will be given to the government and to certain other programs, including the courts and agriculture.
Touching upon the conflict issue, Dimitrov said the EU is still working on this issue, but is currently waiting to see the approach of the new government regarding the occupied territories. If its views harmonize with the EU, then the cooperation will be productive.
Alexi Petriashvili, candidate for minister for Euro and Euro Atlantic integration, reminded listeneres about a statement made by the foreign ministry that negotiations on visa free travel are almost completed and may even be finished by 2013. http://dfwatch.net/eu-to-open-its-borders-to-georgians-81541
“For a very simple reason we do not use dates because it is about the individual performance of each country and actually we cannot set timeliness for how good you are. So much is in your hands now,” Dimitrov implored Petriashvili.
Richard Norland, US Ambassador to Georgia, thinks the ‘country is lucky to have two patriots of this caliber – leaders who love their country so much that they are determined to move beyond deeply felt differences of the political campaign to advance Georgia’s interests as a nation.’
Both Norland and Dimitrov underlined the importance of civil society activism. The EU Ambassador said being in touch with civil society makes political life easier, while the US ambassador noted that NGOs played a large role in having a democratic election and providing more transparency in regards of human rights.
“Government, for its part, should also be open to engagement with civil society. Consultative mechanisms to facilitate dialogue and transparency between ministries and genuinely independent outside monitors can do much to promote good government and prevent abuses in the first place,” Norland said.
Günter Behler, Swiss Ambassador to Georgia, also gave a positive assessment of the elections, noting that he was observer at two election districts. He says this was a really great democratic event in Georgian history.
“Democracy is not heaven on earth,” Dimitrov said at the beginning of the meeting. Others agreed with him in this and said that this is a more honorable system compared to the alternatives.
The Swiss ambassador said now is the time not to lose direction in the democratic development and continue making steps forward. People voted for employment, improvement of social life, health care, education, so parties shouldn’t forget their promises, but fulfill them, he said, adding that unfortunately politicians forget promises from time to time.