Parliament official expects EU to take ‘decisive step’ to encourage Georgia to ‘continue’ on European path.

Maka Botchorishvili, the chair of the European Integration Committee of the Georgian Parliament, on Thursday expressed her expectation that the European Union would take a “decisive step” this year, based on “fair” assessments, and grant Georgia the status of a candidate country, which the development encourages the country to “further advance” its European path together with other candidate countries.

Speaking at the 12th session of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee in Brussels, Botchorishvili noted that the country’s 2014 Association Agreement with the EU remains an “important tool” in the process of its European integration.

The parliament official stressed that the country’s progress on its European path is “undeniable”, adding that “successful” reforms have turned Georgia into a “multiple attractive tourist destination” and brought the country closer to European standards.

The European Commission’s report, published in February this year, also acknowledged the significant progress made by Georgia in the process of European integration. “As EU membership is our long-standing constitutional goal, supported by more than 80 percent of Georgian citizens, Georgia aspires to seize every opportunity to move forward and take its place within the European family,” Botchorishvili said.

“The European Council’s decision to grant Georgia a European perspective is an important step towards realizing our European dream. We have committed to implementing the 12 recommendations of the European Union and can today confirm that most of them have already been fully implemented. Still, last year’s decision not to grant Georgia candidate status left room for uncertainty and speculation. “It is neither necessary nor useful to secure our European future,” she continued.

The Georgian official stressed the “very complex” geopolitical environment in which European security is threatened by Russian aggression in Ukraine, noting that “it is clear that ensuring security and unity remains a key priority for the the European Union remains”.

It is also clear that ensuring European security requires establishing and maintaining peace and stability in the EU’s neighbourhood. Russia’s unjustified war of aggression in Ukraine has created additional vulnerabilities in our region. We have to keep in mind that 20 percent of Georgian territory is still occupied by Russia and we still face an illegal Russian military presence in two Georgian regions. “This is a reality that puts Georgia in a unique situation in Europe,” she noted.

The chairman of the parliamentary committee also underlined the special circumstances of Georgia, saying that there is “no other state” that has to deal with the security risks involved without being protected by the umbrellas of “collective security” and “economic solidarity”, but at the same time confronted with occupation and illegality is the military presence of a neighboring state on its territory.

Aside from this fragile and vulnerable security environment, Georgia expresses its solidarity and unwavering support for the Ukrainian people fighting for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of their country. “We are doing our best to show our support for collective actions and efforts in support of Ukraine and strictly adhere to the implementation of our policies to ensure that the circumvention of EU sanctions is not done by Georgia,” the official said MPs.

Botchorishvili also reviewed the resolutions on political developments in Georgia adopted by the European Parliament last year, saying they “obviously play a negative role in EU-Georgia relations and contribute to the creation of misleading ideas about Georgia”.

We have never shied away from raising pressing issues with Members of the European Parliament and have made every effort to communicate directly, responding to any concerns and providing clarifications where necessary. Nevertheless, the documents adopted by the European Parliament last year contained very serious inaccuracies that only helped those interested in creating a rift between the European Union and Georgia. “It’s not a goal we want to achieve,” she said.

The parliament official stressed that over the years Georgia had proven to be a “reliable” partner of the EU.

Georgia’s efforts to contribute to global peace and security alongside our strategic partners should not be forgotten. Heroic Georgian soldiers stood by NATO forces in Afghanistan until the end of the operation and served in EU missions in Central Africa and Mali following political decisions taken by the Georgian government. And at the same time, we have always been grateful for the efforts of the EU Observer Mission in Georgia. For us, the EU has been the only security guarantee since 2008 [the year of the Russia-Georgia war that started the ongoing Russian occupation]’ Botchorishvili continued.

In their speech, the officials also noted that the Georgian government’s “sincere commitment” to the process of European integration has resulted in reformed institutions, progress in “all spheres of social life” and “higher standards” in protecting human rights and ensuring the rule of law.

But without a trusting partnership and cooperation with the EU and its institutions, including the European Parliament, we cannot achieve anything on our own. We need you as friends who will contribute to positive dynamics in the process of Georgia’s European integration and recognize how urgent the dynamics are today and how important it is to create irreversible foundations for Georgia’s integration into the EU,” she concluded.