Speaking about Georgia’s EU membership prospects at the Batumi International Conference, EU Council President Donald Tusk highlighted that this issue will remain on the agenda. “There are many in Europe who have doubts about further enlargement. I don’t have any doubts. But such processes do not happen all at once, or according to a single plan. They are made through concrete achievements, which first create a de facto solidarity” – Tusk said.
In the words of the EU Council President, “One thing is clear: we will remain an inclusive initiative to strengthen the relations between the European Union and all six Partners, while providing a differentiated approach to each Partner, according to their own aspirations and possibilities. We will continue developing opportunities to – and I quote - "accelerate political association and further economic integration between the EU and interested partners", which was the original goal stated in the Prague Summit declaration, still valid today”.
In his address he spoke extensively about the importance of Eastern Partnership and concrete benefits it brings to each partner. According to him, over the past ten years the EU signed Association Agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova “All this has opened a wide range of new opportunities. Together we have worked to reinforce our economic ties. We have promoted investment and trade. Our cooperation has enhanced transport links and infrastructure, strengthened energy security and efficiency. We are now harmonising our digital markets. We have promoted education - by 2020 we aim for more than 80,000 youth exchanges. Visa liberalisation for Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova has seen millions of visa free trips, which has a major impact on the lives of our citizens. Most importantly though, this partnership has allowed for contacts between our people to grow and deepen”.
Tusk said that he was never in doubt that Georgia is a part of European civilization, citing famous Georgian Poet Vazha Pshavela: ”some people think that true patriotism excludes cosmopolitanism. This is a mistake. Every true patriot is cosmopolitan and every genuine cosmopolitan is a patriot. Cosmopolitans serve their country and seek to uplift it intellectually, materially, and morally.'
His visionary words, now over a century old, resonate as a warning against an isolationism that is on the rise in Europe and globally today. I believe that - by bringing us so much closer together, also as people, and by promoting understanding - the Eastern Partnership has helped counter these negative tendencies,” Tusk stated.
According to him, the Eastern Partnership has also evolved against the background of a difficult political context, both in the European Union and in the region, with serious security concerns in most of our Partner countries. Georgia must be mentioned here as one of the countries painfully affected by serious security challenges. And even if the Eastern Partnership was not designed as a conflict resolution mechanism, it is a community of values and principles and as such, it has strived to support stability in the region and to support your countries' ability to withstand pressures.
When I say Georgia, I mean “freedom”, when I say Georgia, I mean “ pride”, when I say Georgia, I mean “courage”. You are a small country, but a great nation. You have achieved impossible things, because you were, despite all the differences, united around a common goal, that was a free, independent and modern state. You have astonished Europe and the whole world. I call on you with an earnest appeal: don’t let yourselves become divided. Only when united, will you endure. Like the whole of Europe. Long live an independent and free Georgia!