TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian parliament on Friday ratified a new agreement with the European Union which was signed three weeks ago.
The vote took place at a special session with 123 out of 150 MPs voting for and none against.27 MPs didn’t attend the session.
The Speaker of Parliament signed the resolution ratifying the Association Agreement, after which the national anthem was heard in the session hall.
Georgia signed the agreement in Brussels on June 27. Several EU countries have already ratified the treaty.
Opening the debate Friday morning, Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze introduced the major aspects and essence of the agreement, while Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili spoke about the so-called Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.
After reports from ministers, there were speeches by members of parliamentary committees and factions.
In the second half of the session, invited guests addressed the parliament. First out was Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, whosaid that the the Georgia-EU Association Agreement is enforced on the whole territory of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. Addressing people in Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia, he said that they will have their share of the achievements and benefits from Georgia getting more closely connected to the EU.
“You have a unique opportunity to use all goodness – whether it is visa free travel in EU countries, greatest EU market for business, participation in European educational programs, or other things,” the PM said. He thanked the EU for its firm support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and for stable political support for Georgia.
EU’s Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule spoke about the importance and possible results of the agreement, while Foreign Ministers of Latvia and Bulgaria, and Speaker of Parliament of Austria congratulated Georgian people with signing the agreement.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili also unexpectedly appeared, although he wasn’t on the list of invited guests, and told journalists that he was the one who appointed the special session and thus he couldn’t come. It wasn’t planned that he would have a speech, but still he briefly congratulated Georgians with ratifying the treaty.
Earlier during the day MPs from Georgian Dream said that Margvelashvili wasn’t coming. Head of the human rights committee Eka Beselia even said that parliament ‘cannot fit everyone.’
When the president entered the session hall and greeted MPs he loudly told Beselia ‘didn’t we all fit?’ This comment made everyone around laugh and was subject of jokes until the end of the day.
“I am pleased that I am at in parliament today, where we see such unanimity. This is the government, this is the majority, this is the minority – we are all united with one idea,” he said and thanked everyone involved in the negotiations about the Association Agreement.
Speaker of Parliament Usupashvili said that from now on Georgia has become an ‘organic part of Europe.’
He said that the agreement is also an instrument to correctly manage policy so that Georgia doesn’t have to start everything all over again.
Also foreign diplomats attended Friday’s session.