The three leaders met in Batumi along with the President of the European Council Charles Michel. The three countries have formed a new regional union in order to join the EU and break free from Russia. However, internal divisions hinder the process of rapprochement with Europe.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – Georgia, Moldova and the Ukraine have signed a joint declaration in support of integration with the European Union. The signing took place during a five-day summit in the Georgian city of Batumi, which ended yesterday.
The summit was attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Moldovan President Maia Sandu, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili (along with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili), and the President of the European Council Charles Michel.
The declaration states: “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to advance further the process of our integration into the European Union through comprehensive reforms to strengthen our democratic institutions, and to progressively approximate our legislation in the relevant sectors with key elements of the EU acquis.”
The parties agree that the prospect of becoming part of the European Union gives their countries "an impetus for even deeper and more comprehensive reforms.”
The leaders of the three countries hope for ever closer collaboration with European institutions, as well as the development of a free trade area in order to integrate “into the EU Internal Market”.
In her speech, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili said: “we also have in common that we don’t want to go back to the past. We are ready and determined to fight for our European future.”
With this declaration, the three governments have created a new regional union, the “the Association Trio”, south of the Russian Federation, turned towards Europe.
The Batumi declaration changes the thrust of the "Eastern Partnership", which is part of the European Union’s Neighbourhood Policy. The project was initially proposed by Poland in 2008 and inaugurated in Prague in 2009, and is open to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.
Because of domestic strife in 2020, these three states have other issues to deal with, before considering their relationship with the European Union.
With respect to the Batumi declaration, a certain scepticism exists among observers about its effectiveness. The three signatories also face domestic as well as international challenges.
In Ukraine, the Trio’s main supporter, public opinion was not very keen about the meeting, seen as one of President Zelenskyy's many attempts to build consensus at home and abroad. The relationship with Europe sparked the uprising in Kyiv's Maidan Square in 2014.
Moldova is also engaged in a long-standing struggle between pro-Russia and pro-Europe groups., whilst in Georgia, the issue plays a major role as the country’s political parties engage in a very tough and ambiguous struggle over relations with Europe and Russia.
During the summit a very symbolic moment came when President Zourabichvili travelled from the capital Tbilisi to the port city of Batumi on the Black Sea, as she crossed for the first time since 2008 the bridge over the Enguri River, on the other side of the frontline with Abkhazia, a separatist Georgian region under Russian control.
The three governments sought to send a signal to their Western partners "to show their loyalty to the idea of European integration,” said Georgian political scientist Valeri Chechelashvili. However, “all of us citizens of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova have already paid a heavy price for that.”
Speaking on Radio Svoboda about the Batumi meeting with Ukrainian-Armenian journalist Karen Madoyan, Chechelashvili said that "all three countries are constantly running on the edge of the division between East and West”.