Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili gave a speech at the Atlantic Council on 25 February in frames of his visit to the United States. The PM spoke about Georgia's western course, the necessity to join NATO, as well as the expected pressure from Russia, and the development of Georgia's economy.
"Six years ago at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, the Allies decided that Georgia would become a member. In Chicago, the Alliance underlined the importance of holding free and fair Parliamentary and Presidential Elections in Georgia. The progress already made, puts us in a strong position to take next step forward in Georgia's NATO integration. For Georgia, the upcoming NATO summit in UK is the best opportunity to adequately reflect the progress made, particularly when the time has rightly matured for it. It is essential to move forward and the realistic way to do it is to grant Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia. We stress on MAP as it is a single integration mechanism providing concrete framework for the implementation of the Bucharest summit decision that Georgia should become member of NATO. By moving to this substantially new level, we are ready to patiently continue a gradual, step-by-step process of comprehensive reforms," the Prime Minister said.
Garibashvili stressed that Georgia expects increased political pressure from Russia ahead of signing the Association Agreement with EU. "In this context, I would highly appreciate the US Administration, Congress, think tanks, as well as NGO and media community support us through proper and constant messaging to Russia upholding the European choice of Georgia, as a sovereign right enshrined in the OSCE Helsinki Final Act, and its European integration process.
Georgia's new government has made various goodwill gestures toward Russia. We recently reiterated the pledge made by the previous government in 2012 not to use force in pursuing the process of Georgia's de-occupation. Georgia had introduced the visa-free regime for the citizens of Russia and agreed to Russia's accession to WTO. We also decided not to boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Instead, we offered Russians cooperation on security matters related to the Olympics. We also appointed the Special Representative for Relations with Russia to create a channel of direct communication with Moscow, dealing with the cultural, humanitarian, economic and trade issues. Some positive signs of improving the relations are already obvious: a) Russian market has become accessible for Georgian wine and agricultural products; b) Transportation links have restored; c) Issuing visas for Georgian citizens has become easier. Meantime, however, fundamental disagreements persist. Russia continues provocations alongside the occupation line in the Tskhinvali and Abkhazia regions, including installation of barbed-wire fences and embankments. These physical obstacles violate the fundamental human rights of the local population, such as access to schools, cultivated land plots, water irrigations systems, and so on. They also infringe on Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the PM said, adding that the government of Georgia will do "everything within our reach to withstand possible foreign coercion, as we simply are not going to compromise our European future."
"93 years ago, the Red Army invaded Tbilisi and terminated the independent statehood of Democratic Republic of Georgia, reversing the course of history for Georgian people for 70 years. It is important to make sure that such historic tragedies do not repeat themselves in the 21st century," PM Garibashvili said.