17 June 2024,   03:56
Candidate status not a gift, result of work by people and Government for many months - Oliver Varhelyi

Candidate status is not a gift, it is the result of the work done by your people and your government for many months”, said Oliver Varhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement, in a video address at the Ambassadors Conference 2023.

“You are in the pre-New Year, pre-election period when we celebrate Christmas and prepare for the New Year. Allow me to congratulate you on the European Council’s decision to grant Georgia the status of a candidate country for the European Union. This is not a gift, it is the result of the work done by your people and your government for many months, however, this great work must continue to advance towards the European Union.

From our side, we will continue to support you on this amazing path. The European Union is already the largest donor to Georgia. We will allocate up to 100 million euros through our annual programs to bring Georgia closer to the European Union. In the coming weeks and months, the focus will increase on the country’s compliance with EU legislation.

Moreover, we want to accelerate the implementation of economic and investment plans and its flagship projects. Within the plan, we have already mobilized 1.8 billion euros in the form of loans, guarantees, grants and budgetary support. The mentioned plan includes preparatory works for the Black Sea underwater electric cable.

Also, an investment grant of 20 million euros for optical fibre cable. All of them are vital to strength the ties between the EU and the South Caucasus. Also, I am glad that within the framework of the mentioned plan, we helped more than 65 thousand Georgian small and medium enterprises to fully receive the benefits of a deep and comprehensive free trade space.

By continuing on a strong course of reform, Georgia will benefit even more from the economic opportunities that our partnership can bring. However, the EU is much more than a successful economic partnership. It is also a peace project that defends democracy and freedom like no other. I believe that you will contribute to this project and be part of it.

2024 will be another decisive year. Your country will hold elections. Presumably, geopolitical challenges are not abating either. At the same time, with the necessary determination and following the 9 steps of the Commission’s enlargement report, we will continue to work with Georgia on the EU path. Georgia belongs to the European family. Allow me to wish you a successful and fruitful 2024, which will bring us closer together. I wish you a Merry Christmas”, - said Oliver Varhelyi.