Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Barroso: Putin 'promised' not to derail EU-Georgia pact

  • Barroso (r): 'The future is open, but at this moment we cannot commit to anything more precise' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The EU and Georgia have said Russia “promised” them not to disrupt plans to sign an association and trade pact in June.

European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso told press on Wednesday (21 May) that when he met Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Brussels in January he urged him not to “disturb” the plans and that Putin “promised not to do that - that’s what he said to us.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The promise came before Putin shocked Europe by partitioning Ukraine.

It also came before he threatened Moldova with a trade blockade if it signs an EU accord, and amid provocations in Georgia, such as putting up barbed wire fences on its de facto borders with Russian-occupied regions.

But for his part, Georgian PM, Irakli Garibashvili, echoed Barroso’s optimism.

He said his special envoy to Russia recently met with Russian deputy FM Grigory Karasin, who “confirmed that Russia does not intend to interfere with the association agreement, therefore I’m more than confident we will sign it without any complications.”

Barroso’s meeting with Garibashvili in the EU capital comes after a similar meeting with the Ukrainian and Moldovan governments in the past few days.

The diplomacy is designed to show people in the former Soviet states that the EU is still keen to build closer ties despite the Ukraine crisis.

It aims to sign the association and trade accords with Moldova and Georgia on 27 June. It also aims to sign a Ukraine free trade pact next month, assuming this Sunday’s elections produce a new Ukrainian President who has the mandate to do it.

Barroso underlined the treaties give the three countries full access to the EU’s single market, but do not amount to a promise of future EU membership.

He said on Wednesday: “This is not a normal agreement, it is about economic integration … [But] we can’t offer to Georgia now that it will accede to the EU. This is not possible, but we will be as close as possible.”

“The future is open, but at this moment we cannot commit to anything more precise.”

Garibashvili noted that EU leaders have in the past said the association pact “is not the final goal of our co-operation. This is very important for us”.

Georgia broke free from Russian control during the so-called Rose Revolution in 2003 and wants to join both the EU and Nato.

Its former president, Mikhail Saakashvili, championed its pro-Western path, but his government was ousted in free elections in 2012 by the Georgian Dream coalition - a movement controlled by billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili.

He has said he also supports EU integration.

But he has not categorically ruled out joining Russia’s Eurasian Union instead. He also launched a corruption purge on Saakashvili-era ministers, jailing several of them, and calling in Saakashvili himself for questioning.

With some EU diplomats uncertain of Ivanishvili’s intentions, Barroso underlined on Wednesday that “respecting the rule of law, avoiding selective justice and guaranteeing the necessary political space for all parties and civil society, are all key elements” of building better EU ties.

Interview

Georgia's PM lays out European 'dream'

Georgia's Prime Minister tells EUobserver he wants to transform Georgia into a "typically European" society and into a Dubai-type business hub between Europe and Asia.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us