Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  2. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19
  3. MEPs restrict CAP funding for bullfighting
  4. Coronavirus: Liège is 'the Lombardy of the second wave'
  5. UK to keep out EU nationals with criminal past
  6. Report: EU to restrict travel from Canada, Tunisia, Georgia
  7. Pope Francis supports same-sex civil unions
  8. EU Commission to increase use of open-source software

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us