TBILISI: Georgia And The European Union: Two Viewpoints

By M. Alkhazashvili

The Messenger, Georgia
June 14 2006

Slouching towards Brussels: arrival of realism

The government’s statement about the possibility of a quick integration
into the European Union is unrealistic. Currently, the expansion of
the European Union is limited to a small list of countries and Georgia
is not on this list. Georgia and Ukraine will have to continue under
the neighborhood policy with European Union for quite some time.

Interviewed in the Russian newspaper Novie Izvestia, EU Foreign and
Security Policy Coordinator Javier Solana, made it clear that Georgian
and Ukrainian integration was not yet on the agenda.

Solana said that at this stage EU expansion is limited to Romania
and Bulgaria, then Croatia, Turkey the other Balkan republics. The
newspaper Rezonansi quotes Solana as saying that "The discussion of
the new candidates has ceased, although this does not mean that we
don’t want close relationships with other neighboring states."

According to Solana close relations between neighboring countries
are in the interests of both the EU and Moscow. However, states that
have a close relationship with Russia will find it difficult to have
a close relationship with the EU.

Before Solana’s statement David Bakradze, the Chair of Europe
Integration Committee of the Georgian Parliament, said in an interview
with Rezonansi that the EU should have a much more positive position
on Georgia’s membership. "Georgia has expressed its sincere wish to
become a member of the EU, I think that EU should fix upon a much
more positive position."

Clearly, Bakradze did not think that Solana would rule out Georgia’s
speedy integration into EU; citing as a positive indicator European
Parliament Vice-Speaker, Edward McMillan-Scott’s statement at an
Armenian press conference that "The South Caucasus countries should
be individually integrated into the EU."

McMillan-Scott’s position was approved of in Georgia. The three
countries of the South Caucasus could not, like the Baltic States,
simultaneously integrate into the EU owing to their different political
trajectories, cultural differences and (in the case of Armenia and
Azerbaijan) their ongoing conflicts. Furthermore, of all the three
South Caucasus states, only Georgia has unequivocally stated its
desire for EU membership.

Georgia and Ukraine’s EU integration has become an issue of
active discussion, however it seems that the hopes of political
leaders outweigh the chances of integration for the time being. The
neighborhood policy offers a chance to cooperate with the EU at many
levels. With this Georgia can approach EU standards, and has the
chance to try to deepen its interaction with the EU.

Georgia and Ukraine can also deepen cooperation in the frames
of GUAM, which recently became a fully-fledged international
organization. However, the desire of some GUAM members to integrate
in the EU may cloud their chances for overall regional cooperation.

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