Ambassadors Vasyl Marmazov of the Republic of Ukraine and Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia in Seoul co-hosted a reception at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on July 2, 2014 to celebrate the signing of the Georgia-EU and Ukraine-EU Association Agreements.
Ukraine and Georgia have been seeking integration with the EU (European Union) as they shared the values and tradition as well as culture and art with the European Union countries and the signing of the Agreement is expected to bring the two countries closer to the eventual full membership in the EU.
There were many distinguished guests from the Korean society as well as from the Diplomatic Corps in Korea (DCK) and the resident communities of the two countries.
Among the guests from the DCK were many mission chiefs who included Ambassadors Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire, Tomasz Kozlowski of Delegation of The European Union, Matti Heimonen of Finland, Rolf Mafael of Germany, Dulat Bakisher of Kazakhstan, Ngovi Kitau of Kenya Duishonkul Chotonov of Kyrgyzstan, Paul Menkveld of the Netherlands, Krzysztof Majka of Poland, Calin Fabian of Romania, Dusan Bella of Slovak Republic and Bakhtier N. Ibragimov of Uzbekistan (CDA).
From the Korean society came representatives from business, media and various other organizations, including Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.
Speaking to the guests, Ambassador Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia said in part: “Signing the Agreement in an unprecedentedly short time after initialing, is a proof of the commitment of the Parties to enhance further their relations.
Georgia has always been the part of the European civilization, culture and history and that was, first of all, determined by our common values. The history of Georgia has largely been the history of fighting to defend these very values.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this Article.)
The speech was followed by one by Ambassador Marmazov of Ukraine, where he said in part, “The European idea consolidated Ukrainians. Today, the broad consensus on Ukraine's European choice dominates in Ukrainian society. The core value of the Association Agreement for Ukraine is that fact, that this document is a clear reforms plan for all spheres of public life according to European model.” See further details from the excerpts from his speech below:
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Marmazov of Ukraine:
It gives me great pleasure and privilege to address this honorable gathering.
I extend to all of you a very warm welcome this evening and thank you for the opportunity to share with you our celebration of the signing the Association Agreement with the European Union on June 27. 2014.
As of Ukraine, that day the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed the economic clause of the Association Agreement with the European Union.
The political one was signed on March 21, 2014.
In the course of seven years Ukraine has passed through the terrible, thorny road towards the political association and economic integration with the EU.
This road saw its ups and downs, but today, we are finally here.
All Ukraine, including Crimea, is starting to be a member of the Association Agreement with the EU.
The signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU is the starting point for a new phase in the history of Ukraine.
It is the nation-building stage based on the European values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.
Having signed the Association Agreement with the EU, Ukraine has strengthened its position in the modern system of international relations as a reliable and predictable partner, and as country which has been developing on the basis of generally accepted democratic principles.
This milestone event is the response to the aspiration of the People of Ukraine.
The protests, which eventually led to fundamental changes in the internal life of Ukraine, were started by the people`s dissatisfaction on suspension of the Association Agreement signing in November 2013.
The European idea consolidated Ukrainians.
Today, the broad consensus on Ukraine's European choice dominates in Ukrainian society.
The core value of the Association Agreement for Ukraine is that fact, that this document is a clear reforms plan for all spheres of public life according to European model.
The goal of reforms is to establish the democratic system of government transparency, rule of law and an effective market economy.
These factors are preconditions for progressive development of Ukraine.
The implementation of the Association Agreement will facilitate the fulfilment of the key objectives of the reforms.
Among them are constitutional reform, elimination of corruption, strengthening the independence of judges, reform of prosecutors and law enforcement bodies, deregulation of the economy, and creating a favorable business climate.
Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the EU is the key element of the Association Agreement.
Introduction the FTA with the EU will mutually open markets, enhance the trust and interest of investors in Ukraine, and intensify trade and economic ties.
We also expect the growth of real GDP.
Ukraine intends to promptly ratify the Association Agreement aimed at invoking of provisional application of the Agreement defined sections.
However, we expect the rapid ratification of the document by the EU member states that will allow its entry into force as a whole.
Association Agreement is an important step towards achieving the strategic goal of Ukraine - full membership in the EU.
Ukraine requires adequate financial and technical support in the process of implementation of the Association Agreement as well as practical assistance in facing the challenges in economic, energy and national security areas.
In this context, we call for active participation in the investment and donor conference for Ukraine to be held in autumn this year, initiated by the European Commission.
Taking this opportunity I would like also to express our sincere appreciation to the Republic of Korea for its principle stand and support in preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine both on the bilateral level as well as in the UN Security Council and we count on the same in the future.
We are looking forward into the future of Ukraine with optimism, no matter what hardship we are suffering.
We will withstand all the challenges and together with our European partners Ukraine will be much stronger while Ukrainians, who are a truly European nation, who, apart from sharing European values, realize them.
To my conviction, our future is bright, our actions are correct and together with the European Union Ukraine and Georgia will become prosperous states.
Glory to the European Union! Glory to Georgia! Glory to Ukraine!
I am honored to welcome you today to celebrate the historic day for Georgia, the signature of the Georgia-EU Association Agreement. On June 27, 2014 we have embarked on the path of the political association and economic integration with the EU.
Signing the Agreement in an unprecedentedly short time after initialing, is a proof of the commitment of the Parties to enhance further their relations.
Georgia has always been the part of the European civilization, culture and history and that was, first of all, determined by our common values. The history of Georgia has largely been the history of fighting to defend these very values.
Even during the period, when the country had temporarily lost its independence, Georgia did not alienate from the European ideals, values and culture, and this connection was well reflected in the works of Georgian authors, as well as architecture and folklore.
The unfortunate flow of the historic events turned the European choice of the Georgian people into a dream and historic goal. That is why from the outset of regaining independence, Georgia declared the European integration as its foreign policy priority.
Country’s path towards the European integration was full of external and internal challenges, including economic embargo and military aggression from Russia. Notwithstanding this, Georgia steadily continues the way towards its European future. Our choice and commitment have made the European integration of Georgia, irreversible.
Being European is part of our national identity, which is based on the respect for common values - human rights and fundamental freedoms, tolerance, gender equality, open society, social equality, good governance, transparency… This means being committed to the endless strife towards democracy.
On June 27, 2014, by signing the Association Agreement, we have moved to a qualitatively new level in our cooperation with the EU. After the signature, the European integration, being the foreign policy priority of Georgia, has become the main direction of the internal policy as well.
Through the Association Agreement Georgia commits to gradually approximate to the best European political, economic, social and judicial standards, which will lead to the improvement of quality of life of the Georgian citizens, to economic growth, protection and further enhancement of the political and economic freedoms; strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; independence of the judiciary.
The Government of Georgia irreversibly follows the path of reforms, which is the main element of our European agenda and aims at consolidating democracy and economic stability of the country. In this process, Georgia has already achieved remarkable progress. I would like to especially highlight successful reform of the judiciary and fight against corruption. Georgia has adopted the human rights strategy and its Action Plan, as well as anti-discrimination law, which is another step forward to building the democratic state.
Together with reforms aimed at strengthening democracy we have achieved significant progress in creating free and open economic environment. International rankings serve as proof to the above-said. Georgia is 8th in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking. In the first quarter of the year, the economic growth amounted to 7.4 %, which will further increase as a result of the EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DC FTA).
The Government has drafted the socio-economic development strategy - Georgia 2020, which aims to promote the inclusive economic growth. The main directions of the strategy are increasing the competitiveness of the private sector, development of human resources and increasing access to financing.
We firmly believe that Georgia, with its strategic location, transit and investment potential will make its share of contribution to the development of the world trade.
We are committed to further continue and intensify reforms to ensure the effective implementation of the Association Agreement, by approximating to the EU regulations and introducing the European standards in all sectors. Our main aim is to make all benefits and opportunities stemming from the Association Agreement, available for the citizens.
In this context, realizing the opportunities envisaged by the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area have particular importance. DC FTA is an important impetus for Georgia’s economic development. According to research, as a result of DC FTA, the export of Georgian products to the EU will increase by 12 %. The implementation of the trade-related reforms in the long run will result in the further increase of Georgia’s GDP by 4.3 %. Starting from the provisional application of the DC FTA, Georgian products will access the EU market without tariffs and quotas; following the regulatory approximation with the EU in Services area, the EU market will further open for the service providers.
The DC FTA will significantly increase the attractiveness of Georgia for investments and create new opportunities for the Georgian and international business. The DC FTA creates endless opportunities to be exploited on the biggest and the most stable common market.
Trade with the EU without tariffs and quotas is an important stimulus for the Georgian business which, on its part, will create new jobs and contribute to the social welfare.
Approximating to the EU standards and regulations will ensure better quality of goods and services. Strengthened protection of the Intellectual Property Rights will encourage the development of Arts and Sciences in the country.
I would like to underline the investment component of the Agreement ? trade with the EU without tariffs, quotas and barriers to trade, the high level of security of investments and the European standards will significantly improve the business environment in Georgia and promote its stability, making the country more attractive for foreign investors. Opportunities opened by the DC FTA are equally accessible for the citizens of Georgia as well as other
actors, interested in investing in the country.
Georgia’s economic potential, together with the opportunity to integrate with the biggest common economic market, creates significant opportunities for producers, consumers and investors.
The EU, being the most successful economic union, is the “peace project” as well. Georgia’s gradual economic integration on the EU’s internal market should also contribute to increasing regional trade and have a positive effect on the regional stability and cooperation.
Though, we should highlight that all these opportunities come hand in hand with challenges and here we mean the wide-scale reforms Georgia has to undergo on its path to the political association and economic integration with the EU. The progressive approximation with the EU legislation and its effective implementation, as well as the development of the relevant administrative and institutional infrastructure, require significant technical, financial and human resources. Thus, the support of the EU and our international partners is essential in this regard.
The Government of Georgia, on its part, will exert every effort to ensure the effective implementation of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area and to create the conducive environment for enjoying fully the benefits stemming from the Agreement.
In the end, I would like to underscore once again, Georgia’s aspiration to re-establish itself as the worthy member of the European family. The Association Agreement will bring Georgia ever closer to the EU, but in the same time, we agree that the Association Agreement is not the final goal of our cooperation. The Agreement will assist Georgia in making our country’s European perspective, a reality.
We acknowledge that the signature of the Association Agreement is only the beginning of the path full with challenges and difficulties, which requires vigorous efforts from the Government, political parties, society and each and every one of us, as far as this is the path leading to the realization of our European dream, our historic goal.
Thank you very much!
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