At a ceremony in Brussels the leaders of the 28 member states of the European Union and heads of the European institutions, and the leaders of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, today signed the documents enabling the three countries to become Associate members of the EU and to be part of a deep and comprehensive free trade area.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, European Commission President Jose Manoel Barroso said:
For our three partners, it is a recognition of the significant progress made over recent years and of their strong political determination to come closer to the European Union; their shared outlook on a prosperous economic model; and their desire to live by the European spirit and with European values.
For the European Union, it is a solemn commitment to support Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, each step of the way, along the road of transforming their countries into stable, prosperous democracies.
These Association Agreements are the logical and natural outcome of a path started more than 20 years ago when these countries became independent sovereign states.
These Agreements are also a landmark in our Eastern Partnership policy that set the objective of achieving political association and economic integration with our partners, who were willing and ready to do so.
The Agreements we are signing today are the most ambitious the European Union has entered into so far. They will enable our partner countries to drive reforms, to consolidate the rule of law and good governance; and to give an impetus to economic growth in the region by granting access to the world's largest internal market and by encouraging cooperation across a wide range of sectors.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, speaking in English and Georgian referred to Georgia's European dreams and asspirations which he said goes back centuries. He reached out to the populations in the secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and appealed to them to join the rest of the country on this European journey. Garibashvili indicated Georgia's wish to build on the agrreement being signed today in the process of seeking full EU membership.
This theme was also picked up by President Poroshenko of Ukraine who used his speech to formally request full EU membership under the provisions of the EU treaties. Poroshenko referred to the painful process that Ukraine had to undergo in recent months. He emphasised that Ukraine was entering the Association relationship with the EU with all its terriytory, including Crimea.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: The Prime Minister of Georgia, iIakli Garibashvili signing the documents through which Georgia became an Associate member of the European union at a ceremony at the Council Building in Brussels on 27 June 2014. (picture courtesy of the Press Service of the European Union).
Georgian-Belarus relations improved after 2008, when unexpectedly Belarus did not follow Russia in recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia despite Kremlin pressure.
First Vice-President Aliyeva noted that Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads between the civilizations of the East and West, and is one of the few countries that are a member of both the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.