“The ball is now in Georgia’s court. The European Commission is there to assist and advise. Let the hard work begin”, EU Ambassador to Georgia, Carl Hartzell stated at a joint press conference with Lukas Mandl, Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence of the European Parliament.
“Given the fact that today in Luxembourg Commissioner Várhelyi was handing over to the Foreign Ministers of Georgia and Moldova the questionnaires, which is another momentous moment to push forward the process of European integration, I would like to explain a few things about the process. First of all, to say that this questionnaire contains a number, a big number of detailed questions for the Georgian government to provide answers to. The questions are aimed to assist the European Commission in assessing Georgia’s capacity to meet the criteria for future EU membership with an emphasis on three principle issues. First, Georgia’s achieved stability of institutions, guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights, and respect for minorities. Secondly, the existence of a functioning market economy, as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and the market forces within the European Union. And thirdly, its ability to take on and implement effectively obligations of EU membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic, and monetary union”, EU Ambassador said.
According to Ambassador Hartzell, the number of questions given to countries has been reduced with the aim to speed up the process.
“As you may recall, EU member states in the Council took the decision on March 7 to invite the Commission to submit its opinions on the three applications received from Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. And this is if you like the first step of the process. As to the timeline, the Commission is hoping to receive replies within four weeks from now, which is of course a very short timeline. Just to note that the quantity of questions has been reduced from previous enlargement processes to make it possible to speed up the immediate process in this way. On the basis of these answers, and the commission’s own assessments, a formal opinion will go to EU member states in the council who will on this basis decide on the next steps. Well, these are exceptional times and the commission is committed to making sure that the process takes off in an exceptionally fast manner. I believe it is important to note that EU enlargement has never been built on fast-track solutions as it is a formidable undertaking and a process of fundamental importance, both for the European Union and the applicant country. So, what we are witnessing today is a speedy start to a process that in the end cannot be rushed,” Ambassador declared.
He says that it is a historic moment for Georgia, however, the process is accompanied by challenges.
“I would just like to stress again the truly historic moment this membership application process represents, with historic opportunities, but also many challenges. And it’s important to keep both these perspectives in mind and to seize these opportunities by overcoming the challenges. It is to be a sit-up moment for all political sides to do what is necessary to build unity around this objective. To do what is required in terms of advancing the reform agenda, advancing Georgia’s place in Europe and the world, to demonstrate Georgia’s readiness and ability to deliver on the aspirations that are held by such a vast majority of the Georgian population. So the ball is now in Georgia’s court. The European Commission is there to assist and advise. Let the hard work begin,” EU Ambassador added.