Philip Dimitrov: “Stop telling us that you may fail”
03 July, 2014
 Philip Dimitrov: “Stop telling us that you may fail”
After four years of negotiations and 22 years of cooperation, Georgia took the first very important step – on 27 June, together with Ukraine and Moldova, we signed the Association Agreement with European Union.
Georgian Journal was privileged to have an exclusive interview with Philip Dimitrov, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.

G.J: Georgia signed AA and DCFTA. Local and foreign politicians and diplomats say that this is a first and the very important step towards
full EU membership. Do you share their enthusiasm?

P. D: The AA is a historical step for Georgia. It is a recognition that you have indeed gone a long way forward. This a new generation agreement that gives Georgia a lot more than the Association agreements did years ago. But as you know, whether when and how you can join the EU is not mentioned in it.

G.J: There are countries, most notably, Turkey (1963), which signed the AA, but never managed to become member states. Do you think that could happen in Georgia’s case as well due to circumstances that are not dependent on us, i.e. the factor of Russia?

P.D: I think that you must search not for status but for sensible results. What if we don’t make it? I am sure you can make it. And the obstacles put on your way should only strengthen your determination. So, stop telling us that you may fail.

G.J: A lot of work is ahead to raise the awareness of public. As our Speaker of the Parliament put it on 27 June, “Europe is not an earthly heaven, nothing will change overnight and we should disperse these illusions”. What levers do you see – how can we provide the society with the correct image of the EU, free from myths and stereotypes?

P.D: Of course, being in Europe is not like being in Heaven. First of all, that would require dying and we wouldn’t want that now, would we? On a serious note though, people usually are not easily satisfied. In 2003, Georgia was in very bad shape, both economically and socially. What Georgia has achieved in ten years is amazing and admirable. Reforms per se don’t make people happy. Because of the reforms you have done, are and will be doing, doors are now opening for you. You have to step in – with your efforts and industriousness. But we know by experience – once these doors are open, the quality of life in every such country starts to increase conspicuously.

G.J: There were a lot of success stories during the rule of Saakashvili as well as problems. You have been Ambassador here for almost four years and also have impressions from much earlier time. As a foreign diplomat, what do you think were the weakest points of the Saakashvili’s rule? What are the strongest and weakest points of the present government and what about its achievements and maybe, drawbacks?

P.D: Reforms are a painful thing. We raise monuments to individual heroes but in fact people have to endure a lot in the effort to make a country better for their children. I am not here to make a beauty contest or give marks to students. I congratulate PM Gharibashvili and all his team for this historical Georgian achievement. And naturally I congratulate President Saakashvili, and all his team whose role for making this day possible is beyond any doubt. But above all I congratulate the Georgian people who do not buy cheap threats or temptations and understand that the European way – with all its bumps and problems - is their own way.

G.J: In case if Russia imposes sanctions towards us – be it economic blockade or, in the worst case, the military aggression - what levers does EU have to help Georgia?

P.D: The only new thing I can say is the quotation of President van Rompuy who said that now you will see the European Union standing by your side more than ever.

G.J: Almost all the member countries have first of all entered NATO and then the EU. Are these two processes so strongly interlinked and does it also mean that we too will first have to enter NATO and then the EU?

P.D: I do believe that these processes are linked but not necessarily in such a rigid fashion. The important thing is not to give up on them. When and how your goals will be achieved is another matter.

G.J: Nevertheless, there are countries which are skeptically disposed towards Georgia. What does Georgia lack in order to convince everybody that we are really Europeans?

P.D: Stop trying to convince the world that all your achievements were a lie – this might help.

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