Preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit: The Prospect of Political Differentiation
- Stronger governance: to strengthen institutions and good governance;
- Stronger society:to increase mobility and people-to-people contacts;
- Stronger economy: to boost economic development and take advantage of market opportunities to enhance prosperity; and
- Stronger connectivity: enhancing interconnections, notably in the areas of transport and energy.
The EaP Ministerial and the Group of Friends of Georgia
In the framework of the Luxembourg ministerial, the dimensions of further cooperation were discussed at an informal meeting of the Group of Friends of Georgia organized by Latvia and Slovakia. The Group of Friends of Georgia plays an important role in support of the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration, supporting Georgia’s aspirations and even being a voice for its interests in formats where it is not officially represented.
The ministerial provided another important occasion for Georgia to present the progress it has achieved to its partners both assessing the existing situation and outlining further steps for domestic reforms.
As Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze noted in his speech, European integration plays a special role in Georgia’s democratic development. He stressed the importance of the Eastern Partnership Summit in terms of determining new perspectives for deepening Georgia’s relations with the EU and achieving the desired level of integration.
Janelidze also emphasized the Georgian government’s commitment and readiness to realize the full potential of co-operation with the EU to provide tangible benefits to Georgia’s citizens within the association process.
What Should Georgia Expect from the Brussels Summit?
In a joint statement issued on April 12, the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries expressed their support for a European perspective for the Eastern Partnership countries. According to the document, the Brussels’ 2017 summit declaration should reflect the different aspirations of the partner countries and offer a European perspective for interested partners.
Following the Visegrad Group statement, in May 2017, Johannes Hahn Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations visited Georgia to discuss prospects for the EaP Brussels Summit. After the meeting with Hahn, Janelidze noted the following:
“Priorities of the Eastern Partnership are fully in line with the Georgian Government’s goals and priorities in the development area. The EU has a very clear vision of the steps that need to be taken to bring not only Georgia but also all the six countries of the Eastern Partnership closer to the EU.”
The Minister also highlighted Hahn’s statements about Georgia’s European perspective:
“The EU highly appreciates Georgia’s ambitions within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, describes our reforms as impressive and sees Georgia as a role model of success and a bearer of European perspective.”
According to recent events and the statements of EU high officials, political differentiation is an important concept to be discussed at the upcoming EaP Summit in Brussels. If implemented, differentiation would mean tailoring different integration paths for different EaP member countries. As a leading reformer within the group, Georgia stands to benefit from such an approach. If the Summit results in Georgia being offered a European perspective, that would give the country the status of a potential EU candidate.