Tuesday

12th Nov 2019

Georgia sceptical Russia can be 'friend' of Eastern Partnership

  • Tbilisi doubts Moscow can be 'friends' as long as it keeps troops on its territory (Photo: mid.ru)

Georgia will not oppose Russia's participation on a case-by-case basis in EU's Eastern Partnership with six former Soviet republics, Georgian deputy prime minister Georgi Baramidze told this website, but is sceptical about Moscow's willingness to be "friends" with these countries.

"If Russia or any other country can bring any real added value, we won't be against, but we certainly want to see if Russia really wants to be a friend, as it is still occupying parts of Georgia and ignoring the ceasefire agreement [after the 2008 Russian-Georgian war]," Mr Baramidze said on Tuesday (25 May) in a telephone interview.

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 Georgian official took part on Monday in an Eastern Partnership meeting hosted by Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski in the Baltic Sea port of Sopot.

Mr Sikorski told reporters after the meeting that his country has proposed the creation of a "group of friends" for the Eastern Partnership, which could include Russia, as well as other countries, such as Norway, Canada, the United States or Japan.

Launched in May 2009, the Eastern Partnership involves Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and aims at gradually working towards liberalisation of EU visa regimes, the creation of a free-trade zone as well as using EU funds for various projects in the region.

Mr Baramidze said several ministers from the region expressed doubts about the idea of having Russia join EU's special partnership programmes with the six ex-Soviet countries and that the final agreement was "not to name any particular country", but instead to leave the door open to "those who want to be real friends and contribute financially" to the scheme.

Poland's offer comes a week ahead of a key EU-Russia summit in Rostov on Don, where Moscow is expected to be offered the perspective of a visa-free regime with the EU, despite concerns raised by Warsaw and Baltic and Nordic capitals.

As the move requires only a qualified majority of member states, and most EU countries, notably Germany and France, are in favour, Moscow is expected to get the green light for a visa-free framework.

"If the EU wants to give Russia a visa-free roadmap, it should do the same with the countries of the Eastern Partnership. We are not less prepared, we have biometric passports, we signed re-admission agreements with the EU, co-operation with Europol works well," Mr Baramidze said.

Were Russia to gain visa-free travel ahead of Georgia, it would create a clear discrimination within Georgia, he argued. The inhabitants of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, who have been "illegally passportised" by Moscow would be "better off" than the Georgian passport holders, he said.

Georgia has only recently signed a visa-facilitation agreement with the EU, meaning visas can be acquired cheaper and faster by its citizens – something that Russian passport holders had already in place in 2008, when the two countries fought a brief war.

Ukraine and Moldova are hoping to be given a roadmap for visa-free travel by the end of this year.

EU enlargement and neighbourhood policy commissioner Stefan Fuele, present at the Sopot meeting, said that Ukraine could have its plan "on the table at our accession council in mid-June," two weeks after the Russia summit.

"This is not an easy task because this is a technically demanding and politically very sensitive at the same time," Mr Fuele said.

Poland seeks robust EU-Russia policy

Keen to place itself at the centre of EU policy-making on Russia, Poland has flagged up some concerns over preparations for the upcoming summit in Rostov-on-Don.

EU to raise human rights with Russia amid visa-free hype

The European Commission on Wednesday is set to raise concerns about human rights violations by Russian police less than a week ahead of an EU-Russia summit where Moscow is pressing for visa-free travel to Europe.

Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark

Bosnia requested an interview with the French ambassador to Sarajevo, after Emmanuel Macron described the country as a "ticking time bomb" and one of the greatest concerns for Europe due to the "problem of returning jihadists".

Up to 750 European children trapped in north-east Syria

Between 700 and 750 children from different EU member states are trapped in camps in north-east Syria with parents who are suspected Islamic State fighters. Many are under the age of six, victims of war and conflict.

EU enlargement freeze prompts Serbia rethink

The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said the Balkan region needs to take care of itself after the EU blocked enlargement talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

News in Brief

  1. EU's climate contribution exceeds €20bn annually
  2. EU-Singapore trade deal enters into force this month
  3. Commission will not probe Borrell over Catalan tweet
  4. Frontex gets its European border police force
  5. EU Parliament loses funding case against Farage-led party
  6. US will not impose car tariffs, says Juncker
  7. Merkel disagrees with Macron on Nato
  8. Migrants in Malta transferred after EU deal

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK
  2. Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark
  3. MEPs slam Commission over common charger delay
  4. Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more
  5. Cleaning up both the EU and Western Balkans
  6. Can Sunday's election end Spain's endless deadlock?
  7. Up to 750 European children trapped in north-east Syria
  8. EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us