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Tales about “associated membership”2009-11-05 15:10
A year and a half ago, the post-Soviet territory countries started talking about the prospect of EU membership. The notion of "associated membership" sprung almost immediately; it was supposed to confirm the right of a state for a bright future as part of European Union. Six countries started seeking this status with joining the Eastern Partnership project. In the context of the project, Tbilisi is preparing a "personal" project of "associated agreement" with Brussels.
In November, the Georgian authorities are going to present the project of the country's "associated membership" in European Union. This was reported by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nino Kalandadze.
Last week, the bilateral cooperation in the context of the Eastern Partnership project aimed at providing assistance to six post-Soviet countries was discussed at the meeting of President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
There are three agreements coming in the near future to confirm the partnership between Georgia and Europe: an agreement on visa regime facilitation and readmission (the return of illegal migrants), a free air space agreement and the so-called associated membership agreement.
It is assumed that an "associated member" is a country seeking membership in European Union; however, this is not quite right. Europe had the intention of executing similar agreements with Ukraine before the Eastern Partnership project appeared. While giving explanations, European Union Representative Christiana Homan underlined that there is no such legal status as an "associated member" of European Union: it is necessary to acquire the status of a "candidate" to join EU.
In a while, the government of Moldavia tried to manipulate with the status of a EU "associated member"; however, the European Commission Representative Office in Russia explained to IA REGNUM that there is no such notion as "associated membership" in EU core documents.
Still, there are several types of a EU association agreement. Some of them imply the prospect of joining European Commission, while others do not.
Certain guarantees are provided, for instance, by a stabilization and association agreement signed with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia but so far, they are potential candidates to EU. The same kind of agreement is applied to the already existing candidates: Croatia, Turkey and Macedonia; by the way, Turkey has been trying to attain EU membership since 1963.
Other types of association agreements do not imply any prospect of EU membership. There are such kinds of agreements between Brussels and the Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon).
According to the European Commission representative, such phrase as "associated membership" is irrelevant, anyway. "These states are the participants of a certain process; however, the word "membership" is never mentioned. EU has got members, as well as candidate-countries and potential candidate-countries", - the European Commission Representative Office in Moscow underlined.
By the way, Brussels has made an instant remark: Eastern Partnership does not mean that its participants will automatically join European Union; it just implies political and economical rapprochement with this regional organization, while the association agreements have got the same purpose.
Still, the remark does not prevent the Georgians from dreaming about Europe.