Democratic reforms are among “political conditions” under which EU will give up to EUR 500 million aid package to Georgia in three year time, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU commissioner for external relations, said in Tbilisi on January 20.
“Just now we have signed a joint statement, that indeed is the agreement how this [assistance] can be spent, that means there are of course political conditions that the European Union wants to see and we think that this is necessary and I am glad that we came to this agreement,” she said, while speaking at a joint news conference with Giorgi Baramidze, the Georgian vice premier and state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration, after the signing of the agreement.
“Vice Prime Minister has informed me and has confirmed to me that there is a new wave of reforms coming on legislation, but we want this legislation also to be seen implemented on the judiciary, on fight against corruption, on media freedom and freedom of assembly and we also want to see better dialogue between the political parties,” she added.
Along with democratic reforms, the EU Commissioner said, there was one more condition, envisaging that aid funds should not be spent for military purposes.
“We do not want to see any Euro spent on any military and I think that is the most important,” she said.
“Let me also say how important it is that even in difficult moments, Georgia is not being distracted from implementing the political and economic reforms and this is indeed something we have discussed in detail [with the Georgian officials],” Benita Ferrero-Waldner said.
At the news conference she has also outlined the main principles of EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative, unveiled by her and European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, in early December.
The Eastern Partnership, which targets Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, aims at upgrading EU’s political engagement with these countries in number of areas, including the prospect for association agreements, integration into the EU economy and easier travel to the EU. A summit with participation of these six countries and EU is planned to take place on May 7.
The Georgian State Minister, Giorgi Baramidze, called the initiative “very important” and said that it would be “the framework within which Georgia will continue its cooperation with and integration to EU.”