Georgia–European Union relations
Georgia and the European Union have maintained relations since 1996 in the INOGATE framework, and in 2006 a five-year "Action Plan" of rapprochement was implemented in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). A more comprehensive Association Agreement is under ratification (as of 2015). A European Union Monitoring Mission was sent to Georgia in the wake of the 2008 South Ossetia war.
Georgia does not have any official status as a candidate for future enlargement of the European Union, but in 2011 Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili expressed a desire for his country to become a member state of the EU. This view has been explicitly expressed on several occasions as links to the United States, EU and NATO have been strengthened in an attempt to move away from the Russian sphere of influence.
Adjara crisis (2004)
In Adjara, leader Aslan Abashidze was forced to resign in May 2004 following the Rose Revolution. EU CFSP Chief Javier Solana indicated in February 2007 that the EU could send troops to Georgia alongside Russian forces.
South Ossetia crisis (2006–08)
In July 2006 the European Union referred to then recent developments in South Ossetia zone of and to the Resolution of the Georgian Parliament on Peacekeeping Forces Stationed in the Conflict Zones, which was adopted on 18 July 2006 as follows:
|“||The European Union is deeply concerned about continuing tension between Georgia and Russia and recent incidents in South Ossetia, which do not contribute to stability and freedom of movement. The European Union is particularly worried by the recent closure of the only recognized border crossing between Georgia and the Russian Federation. The European Union emphasises the importance of ensuring freedom of movement of goods and people, in particular by keeping the border crossing at Zemo Larsi open. —||”|
After the 2008 South Ossetia war a EU cease-fire monitoring mission in Georgia (EUMM) was sent to monitor the Russian troop withdrawal from "security zones" established by Russia around South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The mission started on 1 October 2008 and was prolonged by the EU in July 2009 for one year while the EU expressed concern that Russia was blocking other observers from working there A United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at extending its UN Observer Mission in Georgia was vetoed by Russia on 15 June 2009.
European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan (2006–11)
On 2 October 2006, a joint statement on the agreed text of the Georgia-European Union Action Plan within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was issued. The Action Plan was formally approved at the EU-Georgia Cooperation Council session on 14 November 2006 in Brussels.
Association Agreement (2013–2014)
To enhance their relationship, the EU and Georgia began negotiating an Association Agreement (AA) and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. In November 2012, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule stated that the AA negotiations could be finalized by November 2013. In February 2013, Tamar Beruchachvili, the Deputy State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Georgia, stated that Georgia had no plans to join the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, which Fule has warned Ukraine would be incompatible with the agreements with the EU. A ceremony on the initialling of the AA by the Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton was held at the Eastern Partnership summit on 29 November 2013. It was formally signed on 27 June 2014, and must be ratified by the EU, its member states and Georgia. So far, the Association Agreement, much of which has already come into force provisionally since September, has been fully ratified by Georgia and 13 EU member states. A second agreement, governing the country's involvement in EU crisis management operations, was also signed.
The European Parliament passed a resolution in 2014 stating that "in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as any other European country, have a European perspective and can apply for EU membership in compliance with the principles of democracy, respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, minority rights and ensuring the rule of rights." Membership is welcomed by Georgians, with 77% of the population approving the government's goal to join the EU and only 11% opposing it.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said at a press conference in Brussels on 27 June 2014 that Georgia could be a full EU member within 5–10 years. However, he stressed that Georgia had not fixed a date for bidding for EU membership.
Visa liberalization dialogue
In June 2012, the EU and Georgia began a visa liberalisation dialogue to allow for visa free travel of Georgian citizens to the European Union. The talks aimed to have a Visa Liberalisation Action Plan in place by the end of the year. The action plan was delivered to Georgia on 25 February 2013. The new project on 'Strengthening the capacity of the Georgian Government in border management and migration regulation' which was launched in Tbilisi by the EU Delegation to Georgia, will be implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), the EU Delegation to Georgia said in its statement on 24 January 2014. Thus, Georgia will take another step towards visa free travel to the Schengen area through an EU-funded project which will help to increase the capacity of the Georgian authorities in the field of integrated border management and migration.
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