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European way to deceive Saakashvili2010-09-23 13:04
Georgia keeps knocking on Europe's door. At times there is an impression that Sakartvelo's integration into the European Union is Mikheil Saakashvili's idée fixe. However, Brussels is trying to avoid Tbilisi's friendly hugs: the republic has not gained all benefits from the Eastern Partnership initiative. Intangible facilitation of visa regime is suggested as a consolation prize and a readmission agreement as a "bonus".
Nonetheless, representatives of Georgian authorities don't find this state of things discomforting. They keep meeting their European "partners" with enviable regularity. Recently Mikheil Saakashvili had a hearty talk with Jose Manuel Barroso, chair of the European Commission. The political figures discussed Georgian-EU relations and parted satisfied announcing extension of partnership. As Georgia's UN envoy Alexander Lomaya reports, another step toward Georgia's integration into European structures will be signing of a readmission agreement in September, Rosbalt reports.
Preparation and realization of all agreements between the EU and Georgia is part of the Eastern Partnership initiative embracing 27 EU states and 6 former Soviet republics - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine. Brussels undertakes to allocate the total of EUR 600 mln to these states before 2013. This is not a big amount, though in addition to financial aid Brussels promises to create free trade zones in selected post-USSR republics. "The goal of the Eastern Partnership is political assimilation and economic integration for a higher stability and security at the EU's eastern border", - Barroso told in winter 2009.
Remarkably, before Eastern Partnership was formalized some difficulties emerged. The republic was overexcited by the idea of visa-free trips to Europe insisting on prompt implementation of this "partnership" clause. The European Union doesn't like the idea at all.
The threat of a surge in migrant inflow forces the European Union to be extremely attentive to the agreement on facilitation of visa regime. It is not incidental that the document is accompanied by the treaty on deportation of Georgian illegal migrants from the EU.
According to official information, most Georgians first come to Poland and then move farther into Europe. In Switzerland refugees from Georgia are ranked 5 preceded by natives of unfortunate Nigeria, Eritrea, Iraq and Sri-Lanka. Nearly 100 Georgian citizens apply for a refugee status to Polish authorities on a border checkpoint in Tiraspol. Over 2000-2008 only 400 Georgian citizens wished to live in "buffer" Poland. Over this year the figure went up to 3,500.
In summer Tbilisi and Brussels signed an agreement on facilitated visa issuance procedures. Though Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, Responsible for Home Affairs, called the agreement a kind of message (like the EU is open to Georgian citizens) only students, business people, close relatives of citizens residing in EU as well as journalists and specialists in various spheres were granted facilitation.
Georgian experts don't show much optimism either. "Most citizens won't benefit from this agreement; - BBC quotes Kakha Gogolashvili, director of the Center for European Research. - Firstly, the agreement has not taken effect yet, and secondly, the categories described in the agreement refer to people who didn't have problems before". According to the expert even when two agreements are signed it will be premature to acknowledge inevitability of Georgia's rapprochement with Europe. "All depends on efficiency and correctness of reforms Georgia is pursuing in order to get integrated into the EU as soon as possible", - he remarked.