President: Georgia chose EU path as long as it exists

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili says Georgia chose the EU path as long as it exists, and “it has been a constant choice.”

Below is her remark at the Paris Peace Forum panel:

“Russia and European Union. The choice has been made for as long as Georgia exists, I think, but it has been made clearly since its independence in 1991. And it has been a constant choice, which, when two days ago, the Commission finally gave a positive recommendation for the status of the candidate, the next day there was an opinion poll that showed not the usual 80 percent of supporters for the European Union, but 85. I don’t know whether we can do better, but more interesting is that 75 percent are in favor of the European Union because of security. And that is made even clearer because a day before Russia, as it has been long habit, again on the delimitation line with our occupied territories killed one of our citizens and took another one as hostage, and that is something that is happening on and off.

They have been taking the airport of Abkhazia and are in the process of transforming one of the ports on the Black Sea as a military base for its fleet on the Black Sea. So that is Russia. And the hope is there with the European Union. And there is no doubt in the mind of the Georgians that security, despite the fact of what you were saying, that there is still not fully fledged and I was on the other side when we were trying to push forward security and defense policy many years ago.

So it will take time, probably as long as it will take for us to become a full member. But the process is there and the European Union is seen from outside as the place where you are finally secure. I’m sure that this is a case for our partners in the eastern part of the European Union that joined a few years ago, and I’m sure that’s how Ukraine and Moldova feel today toward the European Union, that there is a kind of red line beyond which Russia cannot reach.

And that Russia is not changing is a fact of our life. It has remained as an imperialist power, maybe partly because the European and Western powers in general were as it’s described in a book by Sylvie Kauffmann for a very long time. But now that they have discovered the reality of Russia we have to know that it’s a reality that will not change unless finally Russia recognizes that it has, like any other nation in the world, borders that it has to respect, and you take any Russian and ask them to draw the map of their country, some will include Ukraine, some will include Georgia, some will include something else.

They do not know, and it’s our duty, the duty of the European Union, if they want tomorrow to reconstruct some form of architecture on the continent of Europe to make sure that finally Russia understands that.

And I think that will be the major objective of the peace negotiations when it comes, when Ukraine considers that it has reached the aim of defending the sovereignty and the integrity of its territory. Then at the peace negotiations, we all have to make sure that Russia leaves all occupied territories and recognizes where are its borders, and that’s the beginning of mutual respect with neighbours. That’s the beginning of cooperation. That is the absolute necessity if the European Union wants tomorrow to have a Black Sea, which has become a European sea, that is a sea of cooperation and connectivity. As we say all that we want, because that’s a necessity for tomorrow’s world. But that will not happen if we do not move that Russia, push that Russia to some form of normality. “