The European Union and Georgia have built a solid basis for stronger relations that create a very promising future for deeper integration, the EU’s foreign-policy chief said on Monday.

“Georgia is a valued and precious partner for the European Union and we believe it is our shared interest to continue investing in our friendship,” EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili at the 4th meeting of the Association Council between the EU and Georgia on February 5, the European Council said in a statement.

The Association Council took stock of the significant progress made in the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and the development of stronger relations since last year, according to the European Council, adding that the EU reiterated its readiness for close cooperation with the Georgian government to advance the common EU-Georgia bilateral agenda.

The EU and Georgia also discussed cooperation in the field of energy with Brussels underlining “Georgia’s strategic role in the field of energy, transport and connectivity”.

The Association Council congratulated Georgia for the official accession to the Energy Community Treaty in July 2017, “a fundamental step towards sustainable development of Georgia’s energy sector and greater integration with the EU energy market through the implementation of the relevant commitments”.

The Association Council reiterated Georgia’s key role as a partner for European energy security and stressed the country’s transit role for Caspian hydrocarbon resources to reach the European markets, notably via the Southern Gas Corridor, including its extension to Central Asia and the Black Sea. In this context, the Association Council welcomed the fact that the Georgian Oil and Gas Company (GOGC) has become a shareholder in the Trans Caspian Pipeline project company.

The adoption of a new assistance envelope for 2017-2020 was applauded by the Council, which envisages support worth €370 to €450 million to Georgia centred on economic development and market opportunities, strengthening institutions and good governance, supporting connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change, as well as increased mobility and people to people contacts and is fully in line with the 4-point reform plan of the Government of Georgia.

Both sides acknowledged Georgia’s European aspirations, its European choice, and the common objective to continue building a democratic, stable and prosperous country. The Association Council welcomed Georgia’s sustained reform efforts and Tbilisi’s ambition to deepen relations with the EU.

The Association Council emphasised that in the second year of the implementation of the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, Brussels will focus on supporting reforms in the economic and government spheres, as well as in education and youth activities. Energy efficiency and transport, with the aim to enhance the resilience of the region and increase the stability of the whole neighbourhood, will also be a focus of the policy.

The EU acknowledged Georgian reforms, which have consolidated its position as a strategic partner of Europe in the region. The sides discussed ways to enhance EU-Georgia cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy and reflected on the issues discussed during the first EU-Georgia Strategic Security Dialogue that took place in October 2017.

Both sides agreed that such a dialogue provides a good forum to address issues of common interest in the security area.