EU calls on Russia to withdraw troops from Georgian breakaway regions

The EU-Georgia Association Council today called on Russia to “fulfil its international obligations” by withdrawing its military forces from the territory of Georgia. The European Union reaffirmed its support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and expressed concern over the integration treaties being implemented by Russia and the breakaway regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Both parties did also celebrate their partnership, and agreed to work towards deepening EU-Georgia cooperation in future.

EU support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty 

The European Union “reiterated its firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders”, pointing out efforts such as the EU Monitoring Mission and its policy of non-recognition and engagement were aiding in conflict resolution in Georgia.

The Association Council was “deeply concerned” with treaties on integration between Russia and the breakaway entities, as well as “intensified human rights violations” and discrimination based on ethnic origin in both regions.

The EU called on Russia to fulfil its international obligations by withdrawing its military forces from the territory of Georgia, as well as allowing the EU Monitoring Mission access to the breakaway regions.

EU-Georgia relations are “excellent” 

Speaking at a joint press conference, High Representative Federica Mogherini said that the EU-Georgia partnership was working “perfectly well” and that Georgia was a “valued and precious partner for the European Union”.

Mogherini pointed to various benefits Georgian citizens were now enjoying, such as visa liberalisation, with over 170,000 Georgian citizens having enjoyed visa free travel to the Schengen area. She also highlighted that the EU was Georgia’s first trading partner, and also that with the entry into force of a trade deal, Georgian exports to the EU grew by 37% in the first 9 months of 2017.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvil said he was “grateful for the substantial assistance provided for our transformation”, emphasising in particular up to €450m of EU support to aid reforms in Georgia until 2020.

Georgia seeking to maximise its integration with the European Union 

The Georgian PM declared that he was ready to exploit the full potential of the existing frameworks, but that he also wanted to “explore new possibilities of frameworks in order to achieve maximum integration with the European Union.”

He highlighted that Georgia was aligning itself with EU norms and standards in almost all areas of cooperation, and was gradually integrating with the EU internal market.

Mogherini stated that the EU was “fully committed to explore the full potential of our partnership and our friendship, with both sides acknowledging “Georgia’s European aspirations” and its “European choice”.

Image source, Council of the EU

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