Lithuania pledges to help Georgia on EU, NATO integration

Lithuania pledges to help Georgia on EU, NATO integration

Lithuanian Television LTV2, Vilnius
14 Oct 04

The Lithuanian and Georgian presidents, Valdas Adamkus, and Mikheil
Saakashvili, have signed a declaration in which Lithuania undertook
to help Georgia on its integration into the EU and NATO, Lithuanian
TV2 has reported. During the Georgian leader’s visit to Vilnius,
both parties also said that the resolution of internal conflicts in
Georgia was conditional on the withdrawal of Russian troops from that
country. The following is the text of a report broadcast on 14 October;
subheadings inserted editorially:

Goals to be achieved in less than decade

[Presenter] Lithuania has undertook to develop a special relationship
with Georgia and support its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. During
the first visit of the Georgian president [Mikheil Saakashvili]
to Lithuania, both states also stated that internal conflicts in
Georgia could only be resolved upon the pull-out of Russian troops
from the country.

[Correspondent] This is the president who has said he would be happy
to accept Lithuania’s assistance . As he started his first official visit to Lithuania, Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili said that his country could by now
have close friends who would represent its interests in European
institutions and make them hear the voice of Tbilisi.

President Valdas Adamkus has proposed that the countries should
cooperate under the formula three plus three, which means three Baltic
states [Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia] and three Caucasus states
[Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan].

However, as it is not giving up the idea of becoming a regional leader,
Lithuania seeks to help Georgia more than the other two Baltic states,
while, for its part, Georgia has much more aspirations to integrate
into the EU and NATO than the other two Caucasus countries.

The youngest European president says that this should happen within
much less than a decade, that is, before the end of his second term
in office. To many, Lithuanian membership [of the EU and NATO] also
seemed an unlikely idea initially.

Saakashvili said that the pace of Georgia’s integration would also
depend on how fast the Lithuanian people, with their hard work,
ingenuity and modern thinking, destroy the stereotypes regarding new
members that are still alive in Europe.

Transition specialists needed

[Adamkus] We have identified the areas of common work, in which we
will be able to share our experience to Georgia as it is pursuing
its goals, primarily to join the European Union.

[Correspondent] The top priority is experts – of the kind needed
by Georgia – who can advise on reforming post-Communist law and the
bureaucratic apparatus.

[Saakashvili, speaking in English with Lithuanian translation
superimposed] We do not need experts from developed European countries
because quite a few of our people have Western education. Eighty per
cent of my cabinet members are Western-trained and we have ministers
who held high posts in foreign governments, for instance the foreign
minister. Thus, it is important not to get [just] experts but to get
experts on transition who know how to proceed with transition from
the Soviet to a more advanced system.

No concessions at cost of independence

[Correspondent] The guest has also given assurances that, although
it is seeking good relations with Russia, it will stand its ground
on the conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

[Saakashvili in Russian with Lithuanian translation superimposed]
Georgia is maintaining a constant dialogue as it seeks to resolve
contested issues. But, certainly, not at the cost of its independence
and its pro-European orientation, and its territorial integrity. This
is a red line and Georgia will never step back from it.

[Correspondent] As Russia is closely following any cooperation with the
Caucasus countries, the two countries’ leaders signed a declaration
on the development of a special relationship. The document also
says that it is only possible to resolve internal conflicts in this
strategic country after the pullout of Russian troops from Georgia –
an obligation Russia undertook five years ago.