Georgian leader in Vilnius: Georgia is already on the path towards EU membership

“This is very unfortunate that recently Russia proposed to one of the breakaway regions, Abkhazia, to sign the integration and cooperation treaty, which means, I think, the acquisition one of Georgia’s regions, something similar to the Crimea scenario. We are very concerned about it,” the vice-PM said in an interview to BNS.

Kvirikashvili said he raised the issue at meetings with Lithuanian officials and warned that such steps may lead to a “disastrous” aftermath.

The Georgian politician said he had already heard negative opinions about the treaty from the Abkhazian society.

“We already heard some promising notes from different layers of the Abkhazia society that they are not very happy with that proposal either,” said the minister.

Abkhazia and another breakaway region, South Ossetia, declared secession from Georgia in the 1990s. Both were recognized independent states by Russia after the 2008 war.

Russia has permanently stationed thousands of troops in the region’s military bases. The international community see the regions as occupied Georgian territories.

On Thursday, Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the Russia-proposed treaty for Abkhazia.

“The conversation noted that the Russian proposals to conclude a new treaty with the de facto leadership of the Georgian Abkhazia region violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, running counter to the principles of international law and the Russian commitments of 2008,” Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry said in a press release circulated after Kvirikashvili met with Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius.

After the 2008 war, Georgia terminated diplomatic relations with Russia and has been seeking integration with the European Union (EU) and NATO. Georgia-EU free trade agreement came into force in September this year.

In the Georgian minister’s words, Georgia “already notices very strong interest among foreign investors from countries which do not have free trade pacts with the EU, to establish manufacturing facilities in Georgia”. He said great interest had been shown by investors from the Middle East, Central Asia and China.

The Georgian vice-PM said EU membership was the country’s most important strategic objective.

“I think Georgia belongs to Europe, so joining the EU is a natural process. It’s a matter of time, but it depends on a lot of factors: our reforms, consolidation of our democracy, reforming institutions. I think we have already started becoming an EU member by signing the association agreement, our legislation will become legible to EU investors and our institutions will be transformed to the European-type institutions. Georgia will become an EU state,” said Kvirikashvili.

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