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Eastern partnership for selected 52009-01-14 15:25
In the nearest future Georgia might enter into a number of agreements with the European Union as reported by State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Georgi Baramidze on January 12.
Here are his words quoted by RBC: "I hope this year we will start working on these documents. Naturally it will take time but I'm sure that the agreements will be finalized. They will deal with simplification of visa regime and free trade within the EU".
Elaboration of agreements mentioned by the State Minister is a feedback to the EU's December decision on expansion of partnership with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
It will be remembered that on December 3 the so-called Eastern Partnership Proposal was adopted. It will involve 27 EU states plus 5 mentioned above.
The preparation of the relevant agreements that will help the latter to get integrated into the European economy is required. These are such measures as cancellation of visa regimes, creation of free-trade zones, provision of financial aid and energy safety to these countries. The accession of Ukraine and Moldova into the Energy Community as well as the execution of Memorandums of Understanding in this field with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia must serve the purpose of energy safety.
Commenting on the intention to create the Eastern Partnership José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, emphasized:
"The basis of all EU countries as well as of the countries we are building relations with is democracy. These countries strive for closer cooperation with Europe. No spheres of influence are implied. The countries must decide for themselves what they will do".
The idea of the Eastern Partnership was promoted quite fast. As early as on December 11 at the EU summit in Brussels the leaders of the partner countries approved the European Commission's proposal. Accordingly the establishment of the organization is practically finalized.
Now referring to State Minister Georgi Baramidze's statement of January 12 and using Barroso's formulation it seems that official Tbilisi "has already decided what to do".
Indeed why delay? Moreover, the issue is practically solved, we repeat.
At the moment the EU 2007-2010 plan of funding Georgia is the most large-scale among all potential Eastern Partnership members amounting to EUR 620 million. By way of comparison: Armenia expects to receive 98 million and Azerbaijan - only 92 million from the EU. According to the proposal the consent to accede to the organization above will treble these amounts.
The EU has solid arguments. It resembles an offer you can't refuse. And the point is not in direct money infusions only. It is easy to note that all the measures stipulated by the Eastern Partnership Proposal are eventually intended for significant commercial profit of the countries willing to get integrated into Europe's economy.
It is expected that all formal procedures required for the implementation of this proposal will be completed at the coming EU summit in March - already with the representatives of Eastern Europe five. The establishment of the organization is planned in June.
It would be naïve to believe that this EU initiative is determined by charitable motives. It is absolutely clear that the EU is pursuing its own interests. First of all it is a prospect of strengthening of the EU's presence in Russia's neighborhood (politically and marketwide). What is Russia's attitude to it?