Georgia's march towards EU 'irreversible': PM

4th February 2014, Comments 0 comments

Georgia's march towards the European Union is "irreversible" and "the only way forward" for the ex-Soviet state, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili told AFP in an interview Tuesday.

Unlike Ukraine, which under Russian pressure walked away from a key trade and political pact with the EU, sparking mass protests, Georgia is keen to sign an Association Agreement with the EU by August this year, he said.

Garibashvili said that by agreeing to initial the EU pact late November just as Ukraine reneged on its deal years in the making, "we made this European integration process irreversible."

"Europe is the only way forwards for our country," he said, adding that he had received assurance from the EU's top officials in talks in Brussels that the bloc would not let Georgia down.

While he admitted he could not exclude pressure from Moscow to stop Tbilisi strengthening its ties with the West, Garibashvili said his country was less reliant on Russia than Ukraine as the Russians "don't have too much political or economic leverage" in Georgia.

"Ukraine is a different story. It is more dependent on Russia, therefore we can't compare the two."

Georgia is one of six former Soviet states on Europe's eastern flank to be offered an EU agreement that includes a major free trade deal.

But Brussels in the last months saw Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus turn back to Moscow after being told what they stood to lose if they made a wrong choice.

Then the biggest prize, Ukraine, with its 45 million people and industry and agriculture, in November also walked away, leaving only Moldova and Georgia -- which fought a 2008 war with Russia -- ready to initial the association agreements with the EU.


© 2014 AFP

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