Georgia’s Big Day Announced
Georgia will strike up an “historic” alliance with the European Union by signing an association agreement on June 27, Tbilisi announced on May 14. And the agreement is not the country's final stop on the road to Europe, one key EU official, on hand in Tbilisi for the announcement, declared. Yet for all the high hopes, the announced schedule of Europeanization could be -- with apologies to the late Gabriel Garcia Márquez -- a chronicle of trouble foretold.
The marriage of the Greek Jason of the Argonauts to the Georgian princess Medea did not end up nicely for either, but the new Europe-Georgia union will be a happy one, indicated European Council President Herman Van Rompuy during his May 14 visit in Tbilisi. Don’t let the possible risks en route to the “adventure” called Europe “scare you,” he said.
But eager as it is, Tbilisi is scared.
Repeating a standing request, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili asked the EU to see Georgia through the association process with its potential pitfalls. Brussels says it will, but asked Georgia to stay strong. “[Y]our country knows how to resist such pressure,” Rompuy said. “Your way of life as a free society is your greatest strength.” Yet while both Brussels and Tbilisi are looking into a crystal ball for hints about how the Kremlin may oppose Georgia’s European aspirations, there is a little homegrown etiquette snafu about which Georgian should do the honors of signing the association agreement.
Georgia's constitution does not specify whether its prime minister or president holds treaty-signing powers, although does state plainly that the president is the head of state, and "the higher representative of Georgia in foreign relations."
But, apparently, some confusion on this point persists. "Ongoing discussions" reportedly are being held about whether Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili or President Giorgi Margvelashvili should be, if you will, the modern-day Medea.
A similar quibble occurred earlier this year over which man should meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For now, the prime minister has grabbed the pen as his. But only with the nation in mind, we are told.
“It will not be me personally; it will be Georgia that sings the agreement,” he said.