Ilves in Georgia: Eastern Partnership not a one-way ticket to EU
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, on a two-day official trip to Georgia, said the EU's Eastern Partnership project is not a straight ticket to the union, but added that Georgia, along with Moldova and Ukraine, are in the same boat as the EU.
“We support the expansion of space where common values apply,” Ilves said, adding that the Association Agreement, which is part of the program, but not yet fully ratified by the EU, is a strong part of the EU's policy towards Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. The aim, Ilves said, is to bring the three nations closer to the European Union.
"The Eastern Partnership is not a one-way ticket to the European Union, but we will not rule it out as a final destination," he said.
The EU recently doubled financial aid to Georgia for the 2014-2017 period and trade between the union and Georgia increased 12 percent in six months since signing a free-trade agreement. Ilves said he is optimistic that visa requirements for Georgian citizens will be dropped within 2015.
"The success of Georgia that took the road of innovations after the Revolution of Roses will depend solely on Georgia – the people who live here. This will also depend on the statesmanship of the leaders, freely elected by people, and the scope of your view into the future," said Ilves.
Ilves said Estonia overcame its own stubbornness and convinced outside critics to make it to the EU and NATO, “Because we were sure that if we did everything possible to become as similar to the European Union and NATO member states as possible, the arguments against us would finally lose their strength. This is why I encourage you to follow the path of changes.”
Ilves met President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, the Parliament Speaker and representatives of political parties on his trip.