Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic Integration: Still on Track?
A variety of nations, particularly in Eastern Europe and in the Western Balkans, are ready to make the essential political and economic changes in order to become members of a wider Euro-Atlantic community. For a country like Georgia much is at stake. On Wednesday, October 16, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in Brussels, hosted Mr. Alex Petriashvili, the state minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Dr. Zurab Abashidze, the special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for Relations with the Russian Federation, and Dr. Antje Herrberg, member of the UN Standby Team of Mediation Experts; co-founder and board member of mediatEUr. After introductory remarks by the panel, Dr. Ian Lesser, executive director of the GMF Brussels Office and senior director of the Foreign and Security Policy Program, moderated a discussion with over 60 experts and members of the policy community at the event. One aspect of the discussion focused on Georgia’s aspirations for EU and NATO membership and the related challenges ahead. Meanwhile, Georgia’s relationship with Russia remains difficult although both parties have made good progress to ameliorate the situation by engaging in pragmatic bilateral talks. Concrete steps include the strengthening of trade ties, building on infrastructure, and the participation of a Georgian delegation to the Sochi Olympic Games. The upcoming Georgian elections seem to promise a forward-looking approach to Georgia-Russia relations, while future candidates also commit to keep Georgia on track towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration.