Accession of Georgia to the European Union: oral question by Olivier Dupuis to the Council and reply

Accession of Georgia to the European Union: question to the Council and reply

European Parliament: Questions to the Council
Sitting of Tuesday 16 December 2003

Oral question H-0761/03
for Question Time at the part-session in December 2003
pursuant to Rule 43 of the Rules of Procedure
by Olivier Dupuis to the Council

Subject: Georgia

Although it is a member of the Council of Europe, Georgia has had to rely solely on its own resources and US support, and not on the aid of the EU and its Member States, to bring about its 'velvet revolution'. It is nonetheless the case that the EU cannot continue to regard the Caucasus in general and Georgia in particular as a one-time Soviet buffer zone. On the contrary, it must, without further delay, learn the lessons of the latest events and recognise the great maturity shown by the Georgian people and their right to enter the EU fold at an early date. As the interim President, Ms Burdzhanadze, has said, the next few months will be vital for setting Georgia firmly on a new path. Without substantial financial aid from the international community, Georgia may not be able to benefit to the full from the new situation. Does the Council realise that Georgia's remarkable velvet revolution has been achieved without EU support worthy of the name? Will it take the opportunity afforded by the new situation in order to bind Georgia to the EU by proposing that the country be placed on the list of candidates for accession? Finally, will it provide special financial assistance to Georgia to enable it to hold the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections under the best possible conditions?

The President. Question no. 15 lodged by Olivier Dupuis (H-0761/03):

Reply by Roberto Antonione, Council:

In its statement of 24 November 2003, the European Union took note with satisfaction of the peaceful solution to the recent crisis in Georgia, and added that it was waiting with interest to work with the new political leaders in Georgia.
In the meantime, the interim President, Ms Burjanadze, has been to Brussels to meet the High Representative Mr Solana and the President of the Commission Mr Prodi. On this occasion it was made clear that the European Union will give as much support as possible to Georgia, also for the next elections.
As the Council for General Affairs and Exterior Relations stated on 8 December 2003, the Union's relations with Georgia, as well as those with Armenia and Azerbaijan, are firmly based on a long-term commitment of partnership and co-operation. The Union wishes to help Georgia and the other countries of the southern Caucasus to consolidate their relations with the European Union.
Finally, I can confirm that the Union has made Georgia a concrete offer of special financial assistance of two million euros to help the country organise the next elections. The Commission has also accelerated the transfer of five million euros as part of the food aid programme. Furthermore, several Member States have stated on their part that they will provide Georgia with aid.

Further question by Olivier Dupuis (NI-Radicals).

Mr President, I thank the serving presidency of the Council, but I am obliged to note that the minister carefully avoids answering the question concerning the prospects of Georgia's accession to the European Union.
Is it a case, Mr Minister, of an ideological question, or do you believe that if the European Union were to have thirty-five members instead of thirty-two its nature would be profoundly different? I would like to try to understand. Since Georgia is a member of the Council of Europe, it has the right to join the European Union, in the same way as the countries of the Balkans who have just had this right recognised. I cannot see why you gloss over this prospect, which, it seems to me, is a right for Georgia.

Reply by Roberto Antonione, Council, to the further question.

I do not wish to avoid the question, but since Georgia has not even made an application, it becomes difficult to give a reply to a country that has not even declared itself to be willing, or intending to apply, or anything of the sort.
Whatever the case, before being able to think about Georgia, as well as about other countries that may want to undertake a process of accession to the European Union, it is quite clear that the situations must be suitable, progress must be made before we can think about the possibility, even in the fairly distant future, of accession.
I must also say, in all honesty, that within the Council there has never been any consideration that can establish, a priori, the frontiers of the European Union. It is thus a matter of a debate between you and me, or perhaps between those who might be interested from a general, ideal and political point of view, which would, however, have no real concrete weight.
This, then, is all I am able say in response to your question.