Joint Statements of the President of Georgia and the President of the European Commission

President of the European Commission - José Manuel Durão Barroso

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentleman,

It is a pleasure to welcome President Saakashvili to the European Commission.

Today we have discussed our bilateral relations which are prospering in the past years.

In particular, we have discussed the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, where we hope to initial an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area component, between the European Union and Georgia.

Let me say it clearly: the European Union intends to make the Vilnius Summit a success; a success that fully reflects Georgia's efforts to associate with the European Union.

This remarkable achievement will seal Georgia's political association and economic integration with the European Union.

But Vilnius will only be a staging post, albeit an important one. We need to think ahead on how to sustain Georgia's important achievements over time. And indeed, during President Saakashvili's term, Georgia has achieved a very remarkable progress. It is important now to be sure that this progress in Georgia, politically and economically, is further consolidated.

The European Union is determined to keep supporting Georgia in its strategic transformation and in moving forward with an agenda that embraces democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law. We believe this is the best way to ensure prosperity for all the Georgians. Our concern is precisely with the Georgian citizens, with the Georgian people, with the Republic of Georgia as a whole. We respect all the decisions made by the Georgian democracy. At the same time it is important that we are sure that we share basically the same values in this movement of bringing closer Georgia to Europe.

Reinforcing Georgia's democracy is of course a particular priority for us. It is vital that Georgia remains a pluralist democracy – and I assured President Saakashvili that we will remain vigilant, in particular through the work of the European Union's Special Adviser to Georgia, Mr Thomas Hammarberg.

We expect Georgia to honour its obligations, such as ensuring that the courts operate free of political influence. We are completely against any form of selective justice.

I also assured President Saakashvili that the European Union remains committed to Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

The European Union firmly condemns the erection of fences and barriers on Georgia's internal administrative boundaries, in breach of the 2008 ceasefire commitments. These have a directly negative impact on the local populations.

President Saakashvili,

You are now leaving your office as President of Georgia and I believe we can say that Georgia is today a more stable democracy than before. We have seen this in last weekend's presidential election. The European Union has already congratulated the President-elect of Georgia Mr Guiorgui Margvelashvili, wishing every success in fulfilling this solemn responsibility.

In a moment when the term of President Saakashvili comes to an end, I would like to thank him for his public service and also his tireless work for the Georgian people, for Georgian sovereignty. I also thank his friendship to the European Union. I believe this was important for Georgia and European Union relationship.

We count on your party to continue to make a constructive contribution to Georgia's political debate while in opposition. Democracy is not just being in power, democracy is a responsibility, for the power and for the opposition. Democracy is about living together in the respect of the same common values.

And we wish you all the best, as we wish to the Georgian people, the authorities of Georgia, so that we can together achieve those very important objectives in the respect of the values that we believe we can share.


The President of Georgia - Mikheil Saakashvili

Thank you Mr. President, it is a tremendous honor to pay my goodbye visit to the commission and to you personally I have a mass gratitude to express for your personal role in safeguarding Georgia’s survival after 2008 Russian invasion. Your relentless support for our democracy, for our territorial integrity and your personal passionate engagement for integrating new countries in Europe in terms of Eastern Partnership.

That’s very much thanks to your energetic effort that eastern partnership came to existence and that it is basically approaching a new important line, important landmark to summit in Vilnius. We certainly have discussed that we are very grateful for the fact we are progressing and I strongly support initiating of the association agreement in Vilnius and hope we’ll have accelerated process of final signature of associative agreement within the terms and conditions next year of course provided as you said that we as a country comply with the principles of democracy and as you rightly said we avoid selective justice which unfortunately is already taking place in my country. And the risk of it is increasing in the future.  On the other hand we also discussed Russian provocations. We have this occupation line moving over and seizing new lands from Georgian citizens. Menacing the strategic oil pipeline that connects Azerbaijan to Europe; many things – Georgia’s main highway, new Georgian developments like new resorts and new support constructions so these things are very worrying and I think is very important that you express your worrying continuously and that makes lots of difference. European Union observers time place play huge role in safeguarding Georgia’s survival and existence as well as other things and I told president Barosso about pressure coming from present Russian leadership to reopen railway for region of Georgia – Abkhazia that in present sense would undermine the strategic project that we already have - connecting Europe to Asia through Tbilisi Akhalkalaki railway. That railway to Abkhazia from our standpoint will also contain risk and we are coming under pressure to have it to reopened. And finally I have to mention that of course I immensely personally am grateful for the work, for every aspect of transformation influence that European Union has on us. Several years ago when I started to come to Brussels as a young president it way behind before almost 10 years ago It was very remote and unfamiliar place to us. Now we are coming here almost like to our house and soon hopefully whatever soon means it will become our full pledge house but it will take time, take passions, but at least we are making small first steps but very important ones in this direction we are looking forward to Vilnius and then strongly behind this project.



José Manuel Durão Barroso - Since this is probably your last meeting with president saakashvili, what do you think is the most important legacy for Europe and Mr. Saakashvili would you conceive the progress in Vilnius as your legacy?


I think you gave partially the answer in fact. President Saakashvili as during his terms in office has given a great contribution to closer relationship between the European Union and Georgia.  For the modernization of his country and for these closer relationship in fact giving very important contribution to this process of bringing Georgia closer to the European Union, in the economic field, that’s why we are considering further steps in trade, but also for the political field in terms of building a democracy. And I believe that the fact that now there is another Prime Minister another president, that are not of the political color of  president Saakashvili, in a way, it’s also a tribute to him If I may say so, because it shows that it is possible in new democracy like Georgia to have some change in power. I am not sure that in all the countries that we are in relations, this is possible because typically the governments tend to always win the elections, the governments of the presidents. Georgia has shown that it is possible. Let’s say now that a new power will also show the same commitment to the pluralist democracy, because I don’t know any democracy which isn’t pluralistic. This was certainly a contribution. So the work is far from finish, I have to say, there are concerns that remain, we have just expressed some of them. But I believe that Georgia today is much better than 10 years ago. Georgia today is more modern country. A country that is closer to neighbors like European Union. And once to engage in its modernization process a lot has to be done. And that is why; once again I want to send a message to all the Georgians – those in the Government, those in the opposition. This is a national task. In democracy that’s normal that there are different views. What isn’t normal is that views are so pluralized that political adverse become enemies. It is important that we solve political problems with political means, democratic means.

I think President Saakashvili has given a very important contribution to that, I know, if I may say so, that He’s sometimes a controversial leader, but that’s the point in democracy, In democracies, one make a choice, we cannot .. All the times support of everybody. We win and you lose, that’s normal, but the point is when looking let’s say from strategic prospect, Georgia today is stronger, more modern, hopefully more democratic, let’s now keep in the work to make Georgia closer to the European Union, that is certainly our interest and I believe in the interest of the Georgian people.


The President of Georgia - Mikheil Saakashvili

I think president Barosso has expressed in his wonderful style, absolutely briliantly as always. I made my farewell address to the nation yesterday from presidential palace in Tbilisi and I asked them  - ask yourself  is Georgia better country today than ten years ago?  I did not hear any answers so I left for Brussels, but president Barosso is giving me that answer that it is.

So from the side it’s visible, especially from Brussel’s side it always seems better. Brussels was always more careful and skeptical in assessing us, but now we have really good cooperation and it’s amazing how the commission transformed under his leadership in our direction, you know, from somebody coming from Portugal, it was natural to look to the East, although on the other hand, it’s a small country and it understands another small country better.

But going back to the issue, is it a better country? It is – we had several European Union surveys, which also make sense, and European Union surveys said that Georgia was the least corrupt country in Europe or one of the least corrupt, depended upon the years, fair enough, thanks to the change we made. European Union survey showed that we were the safest country at least until last year, in Europe, safer then Iceland - again a big achievement. The European Union and the World Bank just published a survey where we are number eight in terms of World Bank ease of doing business and when I became president, we were 137th, where by the way our Russian friend are now. Now we are number eight, I am leaving at number eight; from 137th to number eight, no country had ever done such transformation.

And of course, when you do such transformations, you have to be very controversial, vey very controversial, in order to get there but it’s true that I am tremendously grateful for that all these things could not be possible without transformation of European institution. When we were doing things, to convince people we also have to indicate where we are going, we had clear set in these directions, which basically appealed to our people.

You cannot only do big transformation when people are behind that and that’s what Europe does for us, and now what Georgia also did,


We tried to change our country, but I now can openly and proudly say that somehow inadvertently we changed the post-soviet world, because we established new rules of the game - new rules of the game in terms of fighting corruption, in terms of fighting crime, in terms of changing our economy, but also in terms of changing powers, as president Barosso brightly said, moving from one radically different group to another diametrically opposed group. We gave the first example at least in our part of the world of really more or less effective cohabitation, and basically, continuation of democracy. And we are the first example as well in all the post Soviet, except of course Baltic countries, where former ruling party did not disappear or become very weak. We had very strong second place in  two days ago elections- it’s just another big precedent. So we are precedent setters, and so maybe we have some other precedents to set in the future. So, we are not giving up , we will continue to fight for not only final European integration, but final establishment of Georgian democracy. On my chest I always have these words of Winston Churchil together with my crosss –it says, basically, never, never, never, ever give up  and so we’ll never, never, never, give up on Europe and in the end, we will make it I am sure.




“The European Union always respects the rule of law in any investigation. This is a must and we declare publicly that when I men Prime Minister here, I told him clearly what the opposition meant.

We have very close relationship with the government of Georgia, Catherine Ashton, Stefan Fule and I personally. I will be more precise and tell you that there is a serious polarization between the opposition and the government during the transition of democracy in Georgia.  We understand that it is a fundamental interest of Georgia to resolve political issues by political methods, for example, by elections. Now you have a new Prime Minister and President, political problems should be solved only by political means and not by legal means, this is fundamental difference,” - Barroso answered a French journalist, which asked a question about a problem of selective justice in the terms of the new government.

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