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BRUSSELS, July 26 (Itar-Tass) - Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Stefan Fule, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, welcomed “the substantive completion” of the negotiations on the future Association Agreement between the European Union and Georgia, including the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).
During meetings with Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze earlier this week, they expressed their appreciation for the commitment of the Georgian negotiating teams who have worked with dedication and energy since the talks began in 2010.
“We look forward to the initialling of the Association Agreement at the next Eastern Partnership Summit that will take place in Vilnius on November 29, 2013, and to the subsequent signing of the Agreement as soon as the technical procedures are completed,” Ashton and Fule said in a joint statement.
They stressed that this is “a very important milestone” for both the European Union and Georgia, which paves the way to comprehensive modernisation and reform based upon shared values, political association, and economic integration with the European Union.
“This Agreement will have a direct impact on daily life and will bring Georgia and all its citizens closer to the European Union. It will build on existing strong co-operation between the EU and Georgia on international issues. We congratulate all those on both sides who contributed to this excellent result,” the statement said.
The agreement is to be initialled at the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November, after which “it will take one to a year and a half for it to enter into force,” the minister said.
The agreement not only liberalises tariffs but also removes technical barriers for the export of Georgian products and services to the EU.
“The free trade area agreement with EU countries is very important for Georgia as it opens the EU market with more than 1.5 billion consumers for Georgian products and services,” Georgian Minister of Economics and Sustainable Development Georgy Kvirikashvili said earlier.
“Georgia, in turn, has to create an attractive business environment and remove all barriers for entrepreneurship. We are working on that now,” the minister said.