Government of Georgia – Appearance 2021

Opening Remarks of H.E. Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia at Batumi International Conference Print Version



Your Excellencies,
Distinguished guests, friends and colleagues,

What a pleasure it is to be here in person to welcome you to Georgia, to this wonderful Black Sea resort, and the Batumi International Conference.

We are joined here today by so many friends of Georgia to discuss Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova's EU aspirations. We are all working hard to ensure that our dreams become a reality. I am looking forward to discussing the renewed transatlantic agenda and what it means for Georgia and the region.

Let us take a moment to reflect on the lessons of the past year and our collective fight against the pandemic. Thanks to mutual aid and friendship, we are effectively navigating our way through a shared global challenge. We have met the challenge, but of course, we know we cannot relax for a moment and must remain vigilant to keep our people safe.

We also know that we face threats well-beyond the pandemic that are every bit as destabilizing as the virus itself. The last year has continued to see dramatic geo-political events unfold across the globe. Russia has not been deterred in destabilization efforts, from the US elections, to Ukraine, to right here in Georgia where Russia still illegally occupies 20% of our sovereign land.

It is clear that the Black Sea remains on the front lines of a dynamic regional chess match. That is why you are here and why this conference is so important. The Black Sea region is a microcosm of conflict management; if we can maintain peace and stability here, we can do so elsewhere, too. Our governments vision is to facilitate transformation of our region from region of conflicts into the region of opportunities.

Despite these challenges, we continue to honor our commitments to Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Our cooperation with the EU is as energetic as ever. We have been advancing our European integration in various areas covered by the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and have continued our active engagement in the Eastern Partnership, which we see as an important policy for Georgia and for our entire region.

The recently announced Post-2020 Eastern Partnership Priorities are opening new opportunities to enhance Georgia's connectivity to the EU, through improved Transport connectivity across the Black Sea. The Partnership will also help 80,000 SMEs realize the full benefits of the DCFTA. Let me thank the European Union for the readiness to allocate 3.9 billion euros to Georgia as part of the Economic and Investment Plan for the next 7 years. All these efforts will serve to shrink further the physical distance between Georgia and the EU, fully realize the benefits of the Association Agreement, and increase the prosperity of the citizens of this country.

Implementation of the Association Agreement remains at the top of my government's agenda. We are diligently continuing our reforms aimed at stronger democratic institutions, legal approximation, and regulatory convergence with the EU. It is essential that we create more policy linkages and common areas with the EU.

As you know, my government made an ambitious pledge to prepare Georgia for filing the EU membership application in 2024. I am certain that through continued reforms, steady implementation of the Association Agreement and gradual approximation with the EU, we will achieve this goal.

As we look across the Atlantic, America has a new President. President Biden has re-engaged his EU counterparts and met with President Putin as part of America's renewed global engagement. I've met with then President Biden on numerous occasions. He knows Georgia and he knows this region. That is a big plus for Georgia-US relations and in turn, a positive development for the entire region.

On the diplomatic front, teaming up with the United States, we were recently able to secure the release of Armenian prisoners in exchange for providing information to secure the safe removal of land mines in Azerbaijan. Diplomacy works hand-in-hand with a strong defense and mutual assistance.

All of this activity over the last year is against the backdrop of the global pandemic that spares no nation, no people, no economic class.

Georgia has emerged from the pandemic with renewed strength and purpose, focused on NATO and EU membership, and doing our part to maintain regional peace and stability.

Today, our democracy is on track thanks to the efforts of our EU and American friends, led by EU President Michel. As a result of renewed multilateral support and financial assistance, normalcy is returning, democracy is working, and our economy is starting to boom.

The takeaway from the challenge of the global pandemic is that we must all continue to honor our commitments and obligations in the greater world. Yes, the safety, security and health of our people is our number one priority. But their future is tied to our ability to engage successfully in the world. That is our obligation to our people and that is our commitment to you. You can rely on Georgia.

Let me stress once again the crucial role that the EU and US play in the security and stability in Georgia. The EU Monitoring Mission has provided the only international presence along the occupation line and has greatly contributed to the prevention of provocations by the occupying force since the last Russian aggression in 2008. The EU and US have been exemplary partners in aiding our security, our economy, and our democracy. We are a young democracy, but we listen, we learn, and we improve as we seek greater European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks: let us all pledge here today to turn our region into the land of opportunity, not conflict. To all of you, thank you for coming to Georgia. Thank you for helping the world get back to normal. And thank you for advancing our collective security.

I offer my heart-felt wishes to you all for a successful conference that sparks even greater cooperation between our nations.