On 11 May 2019, the European Union Studies Association (EUSA), with the support of the European Union and Erasmus + Jean Monnet programme, in partnership with the Georgian Center for Strategy and Development (GCSD), held a conference on Association Agreement and the Black Sea Cooperation in Batumi, Georgia.
The conference gathered over 80 representatives of students, academics, local government, civil society, invited speakers and experts to discuss the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA), and its potential implications for the Black Sea region. The conference explored economic, energy and political development perspectives for Georgia as part of the Black Sea region.
Speakers, with active engagement of the audience, spoke of deepened political and economic relations bloomed out of the Association Agreement and its integral part Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) that has opened up tangible economic and trade opportunities for Georgian citizens by removing custom tariffs and quotas. DCFTA’s implications for Georgian economy was analyzed in relation to the opportunities the other regional players. DCFTA was regarded as a unique opportunity for allowing growth and development of Georgia’s trade and economy and eventually, supporting its integration with the EU single market. Speakers also spoke of the visa liberalization policy and drew attention to the broad benefits Georgia has been ripping as a result of the visa free travels with EU, but also associated challenges of illegal migration that needs to be swiftly overcome by effective state policy and mutual cooperation.
Conference touched upon the EU’s consistent policy of providing support to Georgia for meeting the criteria assigned by the Association Agreement. Attendees heard about a vast array of programs the EU has been supporting in Georgia in an effort to assist building robust, democratic, value-based institutions.
Keeping in mind the progress attained by Georgia within the framework of the Association Agreement, speakers and guests analyzed significance of the Black Sea region for Europe and the region’s economic and energy potential for further deepening Georgia’s ties with the EU. The conference spoke of the importance of local initiatives, civic engagement and the role of local government of Adjara. Speakers advised the attendees to properly utilize the various investment opportunities and undergoing projects for the betterment of the region of Adjara, particularly the project of Green Economy was brought up, as well as waste management, infrastructure building and other.
Participants noted the importance of the conference for shedding the light to the significance of Black Sea region as impactful to Georgia-EU relations. The conference had a high visibility in local media with dozens of journalists attending and broadcasting the event (please see the link http://ajaratv.ge/article/43106).