Riga Summit Ceremonial
22 May, 2015
Riga Summit Ceremonial
The Riga summit’s agenda will focus on key issues such as: state building and rule of law; digital single market and e-commerce; energy security and interconnections; mobility of people and visa issues; conflict resolution and the crisis in Ukraine. In the long term, a less important but most popular issue is visa liberalisation, for
all 6 countries of the Eastern Partnership. The visa issue is affecting millions of people (voters) and political elites have no choice but to pay it a lot of attention, since sooner or later they will have to face elections.

The EU has to respond to growing Georgian sympathies towards the Eurasian Union, which were reflected in the latest polls, with 31 percent of respondents being in favor of it.

Other issues on the agenda are also important for Georgia. Today we face the reality of Georgia becoming the last link in a high-speed railway line that should shorten cargo transportation from Europe to China and vice versa to merely nine days, as opposed to 30-40 days if naval transport is used. In addition, Georgia is also the main transit point for an energy highway connecting Europe to Caspian resources, which could become even more significant if an agreement is reached with Iran as well.
Back to Riga, though: one of the summit’s intrigues will be the representation of Belarus, since President Lukashenko is currently under EU sanctions and Latvia as the host country did not request an exception for him to visit Riga.

Today Georgia is more important for the EU because it is the #2 target for Russia after Ukraine and holds a key location in Transcaucasia. Realpolitik-wise, having Georgia on your side means you will have all of the region sooner or later.

Another turbulent matter concerns Moldova: After 2014 elections, Moldova has failed to create a pro-Western majority and ended up forming a pro-European minority government. About 45 percent of Moldovans still support the country becoming Moscow’s satellite despgeotv.geite the visa-free regime that was introduced by the EU for Moldova in April of 2014. Roughly 360,000 (10 percent of the population) citizens traveled to EU without visas in the first eight months since the regime was implemented.
Today Georgia is more important for the EU because it is the #2 target for Russia after Ukraine and holds a key location in Transcaucasia. Realpolitik-wise, having Georgia on your side means you will have all of the region sooner or later. Also, the EU has to respond to growing Georgian sympathies towards the Eurasian Union, which were reflected in the latest polls, with 31 percent of respondents being in favor of it. The EU understands the diversity of all 6 countries and has already approved differentiation in approaches to them. It is clear that Georgia and Moldova are the leaders of Eastern Partnership. Ukraine will receive support from the EU in the form of a declaration or a statement.
The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will have a meeting over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue during the summit, which will most likely not bring any results.
As for implementation of Georgia’s “home­work” on visa liberalization given by the EU, the Georgian government has failed to fulfill some of the recommendations related to the legislative and procedural issues of asylum for immigrants, combating corruption, trafficking and anti-drug policy. Due to incompetent actions taken by Georgian ministry of Justice and MFA, who introduced a visa regime for Iran, Iraq and Egypt, Georgia lost about 100 million USD of income from tourists and investors from these countries. After signing of Association Agreement with the EU, sales of Georgian goods went down by 40 percent in Russia. This is mostly due to the instability of Russia itself, but the additional import tax implemented by the Russian Federation factored in as well.
Russia never officially objected to EU integration process prior to 2008. Since that time, Russian attitude has changed: according to Alexander Lukashevich, spokesman of the Russian MFA, the Eastern Partnership has anti-Russian undertones and Russia’s reaction to it will be harsh.
Kiev has delayed the beginning of reforms, upsetting Brussels and top leaders of the EU, who call on Ukraine to launch reforms immediately. Kiev was promised to receive billions in loans if the Ukrainian government cuts its expenses, begins the process of decentralization of the state power and starts combating corruption. The international advisory board, chaired by Georgia’s ex-President Saakashvili, did not deliver any tangible results so far.

Realistically, there will not be a single word said in the summit declaration about possible EU membership of any Eastern Partner countries.

Apparently, simply copying facade Georgian reforms will not work in Ukraine due to the following reasons: intellectual potential in Ukraine is much higher than in Georgia; industry-related technocrats have a far stronger position; oligarchs play a major role in Ukrainian politics and corruption is almost endemic and most political leaders are oligarchs themselves, Poroshenko included. All that considered, Poroshenko seems to be very optimistic and hopes to receive visa liberalization by January 1, 2016 and is confident that his country will receive EU candidate status in 5 years’ time.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova need a free visa regime in order to nudge breakaway territories towards stability. The visa-free year provided to Moldova shows that while not as effective as expected, it nevertheless remains a positive tool in a dialogue with separatists.
Realistically, there will not be a single word said in the summit declaration about possible EU membership of any Eastern Partner countries. As for visa liberalization, countries should not expect a visa free regime unless all homework is done and practically speaking, this can be reached by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017.
The Summit of the Eastern Partnership Program is more of a ceremonial event rather than a decision-making gathering, used by the EU to demonstrate its interest towards the aforementioned six countries, inspire hopes among them and to prevent these countries from considering the Russian option.

By Irakli Gogava, Director of the Development Laboratory of Georgia
Other Stories
Adam Kinzinger: I Strongly Support Georgia's Immediate NATO Membership
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Chairman of the Georgian Caucus of Congress, is one of the main authors of critical letters received by the Georgian government in recent months.
Matthew Bryza: "I think it’s a shame if Georgia doesn’t participate in this digital hub project"
Matthew Bryza worries new telecommunications law targets Caucasus Online and will block major investments that could make Georgia the strategic center of a “digital silk road”
Czech Ambassador: “Georgia among the best countries worldwide when it comes to combating Covid 19”
"Czech contribution in monitoring COVID-19 in Georgia was invaluable and hugely important” - Georgia’s Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze praised the Czech Republic’s contribution during Friday meeting with the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, H.E. Petr Mikyska as the Georgian and Czech sides met to discuss various aspects of joint collaboration.
Russian MFA Statement About Lugar Research Center-Another Disinformation
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia responds to the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding Lugar's laboratory.
UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution On Occupied Territories Of Georgia
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the occupied territories of Georgia - "Cooperation with Georgia" within the framework of its 43rd session.
Kurt Volker about 20th of June: People Can’t Forget That
Given that one year has passed since June 20, 2019, it is interesting to see how the West assesses the developments in Georgia during this one year and what expectations it has for the October parliamentary elections.
Eastern Partnership Beyond 2020- Context and Expectations
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) marked its 10th anniversary in 2019. The round dates always come with reflections and new resolutions for the future.
"8 March Agreement Is Very important For Georgian Democracy"-Carl Hartzell
The 8th March agreement concerned not only the change in the electoral system but justice and the impermissibility of political partiality in electoral processes, - stated the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, Carl Hartzell during his video broadcast.
Donald Trump Congratulates Georgia on Independence Day
The President of the United States of America Donald Trump sent a letter of congratulations to the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia on Independence Day.
US Ambassador Congratulating Georgia on the Independence Day
US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has congratulated Georgia on the Independence Day.
Georgia's President Warns Covid-19 Crisis Could Trigger Russian Aggression
Georgia’s president has warned that Russia’s struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus and an economic crisis compounded by an oil price collapse risk is triggering new Kremlin aggression beyond its borders, - reads an article published by Financial Times.
Creation of Maps Violating Georgia's Territorial Integrity To be Considered Illegal
Production, advertising, use, and transportation of maps and other objects reflecting the violation of the principle of territorial integrity of Georgia will be considered as an illegal act.
Turkey Starts Accepting Health Tourists From Georgia
Turkey has started accepting foreign patients from several countries, including from Georgia.
Georgia Has The Greatest Support In the World From EU-Carl Hartzell
A true friend is known to be in trouble, and we have proved that we are true friends, ”-EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel said during an online meeting with members of the European Business Association.
The EU Council Has Approved a Package of Financial Assistance to Georgia
The Council of the European Union (EU) has approved a package of emergency macro-financial assistance for 10 countries as part of its Neighborhood and Enlargement Policy.
The US Ambassador Stresses The Importance of Fair Judiciary System
We would like to see more American companies invest in Georgia and more Georgian companies in the United States said US Ambassador Kelly Degnan during a virtual press conference.
"One More Political Prisoner Is Still Waiting To Be Released"-McAllister
The MEPs expressed their opinions about the political situation in Georgia at the discussion of the report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia.
Promoting Georgia As a Safe Destination For Tourism
“Georgia – a safe destination” is a message that Georgian diplomats should send to people in their countries, - Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said while talking to Georgian ambassadors abroad via a video conference today.
UN To Allocate USD 1 Million To Support COVID-19 Crisis in Georgia
The United Nations will allocate USD 1 million for Georgia to help the country better respond to the immediate health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the most vulnerable groups from the devastating socio-economic impacts of the health crisis.
U.S. Senators Express Concern Over The Expulsion of American Businesses From Georgia
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Congressmen Judy Arrington, and Markwayne Mullin have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, expressing concern over the expulsion of U.S. companies and businesses from Georgia.
European Parliament Approves €150 Million Aid For Georgia
The European Parliament on Friday approved €3 billion in loans to help EU neighbors and partner countries deal with the fallout of COVID-19.
MEPs and U.S Senators Welcome the Pardon of Opposition Politicians
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced yesterday that she was pardoning Georgian opposition politicians Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili, which she said was ‘a very difficult decision’.
The Presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia Received a High Assessment
According to the Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, the presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia had a very high assessment at the international level.
Coronavirus Crisis is an Opportunity to Deepen Relations With the EU-Salome Zourabichvili
The President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili talked to the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö on March 14.
GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange