Dear President Tusk,
Chairman of the Parliament,
Friends of Georgia,
It is my true honor to host all of you in Batumi, a place that has been a true gateway from ancient times, the city that roots its history to sixth century B.C., the city that has been build by finest European architects, the city that had Porto Franco status centuries ago, the city that is Europe's Leading Emerging Destination in 2019.
Welcome to Batumi!
And Welcome to Georgia!
This years conference celebrates the 10th anniversary of Eastern Partnership and the Batumi International Conference has marked itself on a map as a gathering for officials, scholars and thinkers that are not only focusing on Georgias European Way, but rather tackle common European challenges that we all need to be ready for.
Historic decision in 2009 to create an Eastern Partnership has sparked a decade long wave of transformation and modernization of 6 Eastern Partner countries. Eastern partnership has faced some challenges but in this decade long run, EaP had some major success stories as well.
Among such successes, we can consider - Georgia, that has proved to be a sustainable and result oriented, but most importantly has demonstrated to the whole world, - What kind of Transformative power European Union has! In the times of growing Euro Skepticism - Georgia's case is an answer to all the doubters - that Europe is stronger than ever and that European Union can improve lives of millions of People.
But I have to say that - this couldnt have happened without true believers and dedicated friends of Georgia like yourselves!
I would like to offer you my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all of the restless efforts you made for Georgia and for Europe in general.
Georgia's European choice is not a simply matter of political convenience, but it is a bottom-up choice of Georgian people - a civilizational and a value based choice that my nation has made centuries ago.
Entire history of Georgia is about fight for our common and shared values - and Georgia has never been a free rider burdening progress or security, on the contrary Georgia has always been and is on the forefront for the fight for the values that unite us. Even nowadays, Georgia has much to offer to Europe. Besides cultural, social, economic and other dimensions in which Georgia has much to offer, Georgia is increasingly becoming important player in Security dimension as well.
Black Sea security has gained paramount importance lately, and I want to address our European friends,
Without security on the Black Sea, its impossible to talk about sustainability of Security infrastructure in whole Europe and Georgia is ready to be EU's key partner in this dimension as well.
Against all odds We have managed to preserve our statehood, our joint culture, our common values that are pivotal to more secured and prosperous Europe!
After full enactment of Association Agreement and subsequent Visa Liberalization and DCFTA we have generated momentum that cannot be wasted in vein, we remain committed to the principles and goals of Eastern Partnership, but realize that we should do more. We are ready to DO MORE, but we need MORE from you as well!
Association agreement has blueprinted in Georgian history as a milestone that gave Georgia an opportunity to come back to its historic family, ever since Georgia-Europe people to people and cultural relations are flourishing and Economic opportunities are becoming viable. Increasing cultural interactions comes naturally to Georgia-EU relations as we share common European identity. Georgian culture has a principal role in Georgias European integration, as exactly culture and common values serve as the main catalysts and an arguments why Georgia is part of European family.
We understand that more has to be done and we are ready to outperform ourselves and set a new benchmarks as the government and as the country. This is exactly the purpose of the unilateral commitments that we have identified in Roadmap2EU.
Keeping the momentum is of utmost importance in bilateral relations and we have to explore new, additional avenues in Georgias European Integration. Besides the implementation of the Association Agreement and DCFTA, new channels should be examined to associate Georgia even closer to the EU and determine the shape of future relations.
Georgia has the clear understanding that EU's partnerships is built on capabilities and willingness of the partners itself. You can be rest assured that we are both; willing and capable to pursue Sectoral integration and that is something that we all need to work on! But on this path we need your support, access to financial instruments that will provide sufficient conditions for the reforms that will have a transformational impact on our country and Georgian society.
Our entire multi-centennial history is all about protecting freedom, our shared values and identity - the cultural - the national DNA that has learnt to always strive for more, to never let malign circumstances to determine its future and most importantly never let challenges determine its present - thats why today we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Western allies in the strive for Peace and Security around the world.
I often say that Georgia has two most painful challenges, occupation and poverty. This became my precept and serves as the basis of every reform or initiative that our Government introduces in the country.
Despite all the positive synergies that we create in Georgia, our country still faces major Human Rights challenges on our occupied territories. Growing militarization is in full swing and de-population intensifies by the minute, population in the occupied regions has decreased by 5-6 fold and we cannot let this continue.
As a result we have Russian military bases in the heart of Georgia and on daily basis we have to deal with the threats of abduction, torture and murder of Georgian citizens. Here I would like to thank our partners for supporting Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili list.
We all have to realize these are the challenges that not only Georgians have to counter, but it is our mutual European goal to unite barbwire divided societies and families. We should all unite and ensure that deliberate disregard of international law, rule of law and grave human rights violations never be tolerated!
My challenge is to provide Georgian citizens living in occupied territories with proper healthcare and competitive education. We want to create opportunities for micro and small businesses for our citizens to support their families. This is exactly what our new peaceful initiative A Step to a Better Future is all about and we need your support my friends, Europes support in order to activate this project.
Despite the deceptive attempts to alter Georgian history and genesis of the occupation we wont fall victim to despair and intimidation! Georgia's European Path is the civilizational choice of our people, which means more successful Georgia and therefore more prosperous, completed and secured European family.
Aggravative challenges of occupation are multi dimensional in its ways and means. Last couple of weeks in Georgia have been a true testament to it, but our response is resolute that Democratic consolidation and sustainable, inclusive economic growth is the only way forward.
Georgia is universally recognized as a beacon of democratic transformation in our region. We have Introduced robust Human Rights reforms, which ensured continuity of our historical legacy, that includes diversity and tolerance. By new constitution Georgia is a fully Parliamentary republic. We are crafting a new political chapter in Georgian politics, fully proportional elections system without barrier ensures full political inclusiveness.
Additionally, we have started a new wave of very comprehensive reforms that will support our transformation into a multi-dimensional hub.
One of such reforms, is truly REVOLUTIONARY - I would say even a REAL GAME CHANGER - a true NATIONAL IDEA - reform of education sector. Throughout past decades Education has become a bottleneck.
With the new reform we will be devoting 6% of our GDP, which is one fourth of our budget to the Education sector, together with private sector accumulating double digit share in GDP and thus making Education a leading sector in our economic structure.
Only highly skilled and educated professionals will be able to raise our country to the heights that we envisage for our future generations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Georgia is a place to be in and to do business in, we are ready to embrace current trends and continue to be a ring-leader of positive changes, a place were Rule of Law is cherished and Europe is only way Forward.
But, In order to make this happen, we are in immediate need of creation of additional mechanisms to Eastern Partnership, on our end we are determined to continue our strive for more, but on your end its your turn to offer us new mechanisms that will create new benchmarks and new deliverables for a champion country - like Georgia.
Let me conclude, together with Georgia Europe is stronger and as we say in Georgia - Strength is in Unity!