The First EU – Eastern Partnership Forum in Tbilisi has come to an end. The conference did not bring any breakthrough in the EU’s relations with East European and the South Caucasus countries. The Forum was an opportunity to exchange experience. Georgia benefited the most from the event by effective promotion as the regional leader of democratic transformation. The recurring subject of Russian involvement in the region covered by the EaP programme gives rise to the question of including Russian experts in the circle of panellists of the next year’s edition.
The EU-Eastern Partnership Forum was not a turning point in mutual relations. This two-day meeting could not solve regional conflicts, nor accelerate changes within the Eastern states. Anyway, no one expected the conference to be a presentation of new and successful tools for speeding the integration process up. The Forum was a chance for representatives of the EaP states to meet as well as to exchange experience and to emphasise the common interest on the road to the increased cooperation with the EU. The fact that such an event took place was in itself a success.
The host of the summit, Georgia, fully used its day. It effectively attracted attention of the politicians, businessmen and activists. Enjoying privileges of a host-country, Georgia was constantly the centre of attention, promoting its achievements on the road to democratisation and Europeanisation of the country. It has successfully established among the guests a conviction that Georgia is a regional leader, both tourist and economic one. According to the organisers, Georgia is a reliable and dependable partner in fuel industry and an attractive country for foreign investments.
Good business climate
It is important to emphasise Polish recognition of Georgian administration and business climate. Chief Editor of Rzeczpospolita daily Tomasz Wroblewski, who chaired the closing session, stated with satisfaction that Polish businessmen have no cause for complaint about Georgian bureaucracy. Entrepreneurs find pleasure in contacting Georgian administration. Their example proves that that one can conduct successful business in Georgia, undisturbed by clerks.
Effective fight against corruption
Efficiency of Georgian administration has probably been one of the greatest achievements of Georgia for the last few years. It results from the successful fight against corruption. Prime Minister Nika Gilauri pointed out that 9 years ago Georgia had been one of the most corrupted countries in the world. Efficient reform programme “changed Georgian DNA”. The citizens of Tbilisi stress the fundamental change in the police’s effectiveness and fairness. Georgia is changing and Mtskheta is a great example of that. This historic capital of Georgia with the beautifully restored Old Town, stalls, souvenirs and new car parks for tourists give new meaning to the term of “organisation in the Caucasus”.
The major brake
Georgia has already made effort to make the Forum an annual summit of the Eastern Partnership in Tbilisi. The Russian thread was, however, a recurring subject of the debate. The speakers repeatedly stated that Russia is the main brake on positive changes in the region. Therefore, it may not be ungrounded to invite experts from Russia to future editions of the Forum. The current formula of the meeting is a group of partners shutting away and convincing those already convinced. Obviously, it is not about strengthening Moscow’s position and proving that no integration processes can take place without its involvement, but rather about giving new scope to these kinds of meetings. It is impossible to talk the future of the region, passing over its largest neighbour.
The media coverage made through the courtesy of Members of the European Parliament
Paweł Kowal and Paweł Zalewski.
Translated by Marta Lityńska