News / Europe

Georgia PM Hopes Ukraine Will Choose Europe

FILE - Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili speaks during a press conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 3, 2014.
FILE - Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili speaks during a press conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 3, 2014.
Reuters
Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili on Tuesday urged Ukraine to consider following his country's path of integration with the West through increased trade and investment, as it grapples with its future.
 
In an interview with Reuters in Washington, where he met President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for talks, Garibashvili said he was concerned that the political upheaval in Ukraine could destabilize the wider region.
 
His visit to Washington and another next week by Moldova's prime minister are aimed at showing U.S. support for two former Soviet republics that are undergoing a transformation and have balked at pressure from Russia.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (R) meet with Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili (L) in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24, 2014.U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (R) meet with Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili (L) in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24, 2014.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (R) meet with Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili (L) in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (R) meet with Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili (L) in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24, 2014.
“Of course the recent developments may have implications on the wider region and that's why we are concerned,” said Garibashvili. “I very much hope that Ukraine will go back to its path to its European choice,” he added while emphasizing it was up to Ukrainians to decide which path to follow.
 
Still, he added: “I think the Georgian way is something that they should look at and should consider.”
 
Like Ukraine, Georgia has also been caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between integrating with Europe and the West or staying under the influence of Moscow.
 
While Georgia initialed an accord in November to deepen trade and cooperation with the European Union, Ukraine bowed to pressure from Moscow and suspended plans to sign trade and other deals with the EU.
 
Unrest erupted in Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovich abandoned a proposed trade pact with the EU in November and turned instead toward Moscow, which offered loans and cheaper supplies of natural gas. In a dramatic turn of events at the weekend, Ukraine's parliament voted Yanukovich out of office and set early presidential elections for May 25.
 
Russia is trying to maintain its influence over the newly-independent states it dominated during the Soviet era, especially those with energy pipelines and large ethnic Russian communities.
 
Garibashvili said he was particularly concerned with reports on Tuesday of protests in Russian-speaking Crimea on Ukraine's southern peninsula where there have been calls to secede from Ukraine.
 
While Georgia is further from Moscow's orbit than Ukraine, tensions between Russia and Georgia have remained high after a 2008 war over two Moscow-backed breakaway regions. Garibashvili said Russian forces had recently resumed installing a barbed wire fence on the border of breakaway South Ossetia.
 
While he expected such actions from Russia to continue, Garibashvili said Tbilisi was seeking a balanced relationship between East and West by deepening ties with the West and carving out a more constructive relationship with Moscow.
 
“We made a firm decision to sign the association agreement with the European Union. At the same time we are trying to normalize relations with Russia and having this constructive policy with them,” he said.
 
“Therefore we need to find a balance, how to balance this. And we have to persuade the Russian authorities that Georgia's European integration does not conflict with the Russian interest. That's our mission,” Garibashvili added.
 
He said surveys in Georgia showed that 85 percent of Georgians supported more integration with the West and away from Russia's fold.
 
Garibashvili also said he was seeking closer economic ties and other relations with the United States in efforts to develop the Georgian economy, which the government has forecast will expand by at least 5 percent this year.
 
“Developing the economy is a priority for my government and we made structural reforms and the result is just getting to be felt,” the prime minister said.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid