On 31 July 2019, the European Union Studies Association (EUSA), with the support of the European Union and Erasmus + Jean Monnet programme, in partnership with the European Law Students Association Georgia (ELSA Georgia), held a conference in Tbilisi under the title “Perspectives and Challenges of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement”.
The event aimed at creating an academic platform to discuss Georgia’s legal and political approximation to the European Union. The invited speakers from the government and non-government organizations, experts and academics discussed the implementation of various areas of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, as well as touch upon the array of important issues such as: perspectives and challenges related to the EU’s neighborhood policy towards the Eastern Partnership countries, visa liberalization, and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
The conference gathered over 80 representatives of Georgia’s academic networks, government, civil society organizations and experts. Law and international relations students were invited from different universities of Tbilisi, as well as from Kutaisi and Batumi State Universities.
The event was officially opened by Erasmus + Jean Monnet Project Manager of European Union Studies Association (EUSA), International Relations Professor, Tamar Khuntsaria and the President of the European Law Students Association (ELSA), Tsitsia Javakhishvili.
In the first half of the conference, General Director of European Integration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Archil Karaulashvili comprehensively covered the EU-Georgia cooperation formats, existing perspective and current challenges. In addition, Head of Association “European Time”, Professor of Law, Ekaterine Kardava spoke about various problematic aspects related to the implementation of the Association Agreement in Georgia.
The second and third parts of the conference involved thematic sessions.
In the second part of the conference Director of EU Studies Center at GFSIS, Kakha Gogolashvili spoke about the National Action Plans for the implementation of EU-Georgia Association Agenda. In addition, European Integration Programme Manager at OSGF, Ivane Chkhikvadze discussed EU Law approximation in the framework of the EU neighborhood policy and Eastern Partnership. He also reviewed Visa Liberalization and migration issues along with highlighting existing perspectives and challenges. The speaker 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.
In the third part of the conference, Head of Foreign Trade Policy Department of the Ministry of Economic and Sustaniable Development of Georgia, Mariam Gabunia spoke about the DCFTA component of EU-Georgia Association Agreement, reviewed new regulations, perspectives and challenges for the private sector and the government. She also spoke about the measures with respect to informing and raising awareness on the EU market regulations and the EU’s support to encourage Georgia’s export of goods and services. With active engagement of the audience, the speaker spoke of deepened political and economic relations bloomed out of the Association Agreement and its integral part DCFTA that has opened up tangible economic and trade opportunities for Georgian citizens by removing custom tariffs and quotas. 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.
The conference also 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.