Georgia is moving fast to meet its requirements for signing the Association Agreement with the EU and will be ready for that by August, PM Irakli Garibashvili said on December 20 and welcomed EU’s decision to speed up preparation for signature.
EU leaders decided at a two-day summit in Brussels to speed up the process and to sign the Association Agreements, which also includes deep and comprehensive free trade area, with Georgia and Moldova “as soon as possible and no later than the end of August 2014.”
“We are willing to speed up the signing of the agreements with them, next August at the latest,” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said on December 20.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels on December 20, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was decided to prepare the agreements with Moldova and Georgia, “ in particular with Moldova”, for signing no later than August. She said it requires fast-track procedures, “but we are ready” for that.
“To tell you the truth, we were expecting speeding up of the process from the European Union and it is very good that the Association Agreement might be signed in August,” Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili told journalists after he hosted Tbilisi-based foreign diplomats at a reception on December 20.
“As far as our commitments are concerned that we have to implement, we are implementing them maximally fast. I am sure everything will be prepared before August,” Garibashvili said.
Asked about challenges on this path and if the government is ready for those challenges, the PM responded: “Yes we are; but we are not expecting any serious or alarming challenges; everything goes smoothly.”
State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Alexi Petriashvili, said that the EU’s readiness to speed up the process demonstrates EU’s firm commitment to support its Eastern partners “against the background of challenges” these countries are facing.
Georgia and Moldova initialed their respective Association Agreements at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in late November.
In September European Commission officials confirmed intention to speed up the process and to prepare Association Agreements, which also include deep and comprehensive free trade treaties, with Georgia and Moldova for signing before the end of the term of sitting European Commission – that is before October 31, 2014. Before that a potential date and venue for signing was considered the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga in 2015. Before EU’s announcement on December 20, both the EU and Georgian officials were speaking about September, 2014 as the potential earliest date of signing.