By Commissioner Štefan Füle
Let me echo Minister Kozakou-Marcoullis in welcoming our Georgian friends to Brussels today. Our meeting comes only three weeks after High Representative Ashton visited Georgia, and only a month ago Prime Minister Ivanishvili and President Saakashvili were in Brussels. A few weeks before that, I was myself in Georgia. So this meeting should be seen as part of a pattern of intensified EU-Georgia relations. We take this relationship very seriously, it is important to us.
Georgia and the EU have made very substantial progress towards political association and economic integration in recent years. We have closed several chapters of our Association Agreement negotiations, and are making real progress in the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area negotiations, and our visa liberalisation dialogue. These are tangible achievements.
We want to develop this integration process still further, as long as Georgia continues to show that it is our willing partner accepting EU values and standards. We very much appreciate the readiness of the new government team to maintain continuity in these efforts.
Today, we looked ahead to next year’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. We have a very busy schedule ahead of us, but things are on track to deliver some real progress in EU-Georgia relations in time for this major date on our calendar.
One thing which we discussed today, and which we’re very much looking forward to, is the informal Eastern Partnership dialogue which Georgia has kindly offered to host in the new year. This will be an important event to gauge progress in implementing the Eastern Partnership roadmap and fine-tuning our agenda in the final months ahead of Vilnius.
During today’s meeting, I recalled that EU assistance to Georgia has been significant, amounting to €181 million in the period of 2011 to 2013. On top of that, in line with our policy of offering “more for more”, the EU mobilised an additional €22 million for Georgia in 2012 in recognition of its reform efforts. It would be great if I could say the same thing standing here next year.