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Thank you very much. It is really a pleasure for me to be here in Tbilisi for my first official visit. I am afraid I didn't bring the sun from Brussels but still it's wonderful to be welcomed so warmly in this beautiful city, in this beautiful country.
It is indeed a very intense day, a very intense programme. I have had meetings with the President, with the Prime Minister and we are continuing our discussions in a moment. I had the pleasure to deliver the opening speech together with Prime Minister to the international conference on gender equality this morning, and I would like to thank the government of Georgia for this initiative that I believe is extremely important. I had meetings with members of Parliament and the Speaker of the Parliament and with civil society actors. My agenda will continue with other meetings later this afternoon.
Let me say first of all that I really appreciate the role of Georgia first of all in our bilateral relations: the implementation of the Association Agreement is key, the partnership we have developed in this implementation is going well and I really appreciate the work we have commonly done and indeed it will be a pleasure to welcome you in Brussels next week to continue on the implementation of the Association Agreement during our Association Council, the second Association Council. And let me also thank you for the very substantial contribution that your country has provided to the review of our Eastern Partnership, to the review of our policies, and also for hosting the Informal Partnership Dialogue you mentioned with head ministers here in Tbilisi later this month.
Let me also say something that is very important for the European Union - that we really value and appreciate a lot - which is Georgia's contribution to the European Union-led missions and operations in the Central African Republic, in Mali and in Ukraine. This is really concrete cooperation on security issues day-by-day, our people working together side-by-side in the framework of European Union operations and missions show that indeed we are working already together for the security and stability not only of our own region but also globally. Let me also say that I would underline your words on the positive steps that have been achieved on different benchmarks of the visa liberalisation. We will have recommendation from the Commission later this year, for decision then by the Council and the European Parliament, and I have to stress the fact that indeed the steps have been really positive, have been really positive. I cannot anticipate decisions that will be taken later this year by the European institutions, but I see all the positive signs of this process in front of us. And I believe this is really the result of hard, good work and strong political will of the Government, but, I would say, probably of the whole country all together in this sense. And I really hope that we will have positive news to bring officially in the coming future.
We know very well that Georgia, as you said, we discussed also the political, domestic environment. 2016 is going to be a very important year politically for Georgia. We discussed the needs to guarantee a political environment that is calm, respectful and that can guarantee that democratic, inclusive and participatory elections can be held in the way in which Georgia can do.
And, we discussed also the needs to keep this democratic momentum all over 2016 - it is still long, almost one year. So, I would invite to show again calm and restraint. Emotions in politics, a Georgian and an Italian understand very well what it means. Still, apart from emotions, it is the framework that is important, it is the freedom of media, pluralism, respect of rule of law, judiciary independence and also that all parties refrain from inciting or inviting acts that would not be beneficial for society. For sure, violent acts would not be constructive to the overall mood of the campaign and that the different things come together. This is what we mean by European values, European principles, and European agendas. This is the first and foremost core issue of it.
Let me also mention the fact that I will visit later in the day the Administrative Boundary Line together with my colleagues of the EU monitoring mission. And this is, I believe, a concrete, visible sign of the support of the European Union action to Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. You know you can always count on us to reiterate this principle and to concretely work for these principles to turn into a reality. I am proud that I have heard during my meetings today a sense of recognition of the role of the Monitoring Mission that the European Union is having here and we hope we can contribute to create a stable, normal and trustful environment in all of Georgia.
I thank you very much.
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