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Eastern Partnership: challenges and opportunities for Georgia

27/04/2012, Rome

During a seminar at the IAI on April 27, Tornike Gordadze, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Georgia discussed the current scenarios of Georgia’s foreign policy in the framework of a more general analysis of the European Union’s 'Eastern partnership'.

The minister pointed out that Georgia, a former republic of the Soviet Union, is now a country in continuous evolution: involved in the rebuilding of its state structures for some time now, it is aiming at more democracy, a free market regime and deeper integration in Europe. Evidence of this is the approach towards NATO and the EU, with the entry into force of the ‘European Neighbourhood Policy’ (ENP) in 2004 and the following Agreements in 2010-2011.

Located geostrategically between Europe and Asia, Georgia receives enormous economical and socio-cultural benefits from cooperation projects with the European Union, especially those concerning the free movement of capital, goods, services and people (today an EU citizen can enter and stay in Georgia without a visa for up to three months). According to the minister, a natural consequence of these political and commercial agreements could be EU membership.

In addition to its approach towards the EU, Georgia is also working to complete the process to join NATO, after being designated an ‘aspiring country’ in the December 2011 statement of the North Atlantic Council. Georgia is now a special partner of the Atlantic Alliance, as attested to by Tiblisi’s military contributions in Afghanistan (Georgia has increased its military presence, making it the biggest non-NATO contributor there). This commitment may allow Georgia to be considered no longer just a ‘consumer’, but also a ‘provider’ of security and defence in the international scenario.

NATO and the UE may also help Georgia to improve its troubled relationship with Russia, its biggest neighbour. Four years on, Russia is still militarily occupying the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, showing no intention to withdraw its troops.

Important developments may come from the Chicago NATO summit on May 20-21 and from the Georgian elections in November, an effective test for measuring the real status of democracy in the country.

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