MEP Fotyga: We Have to Remain Vigilant

Exclusive interview

For those who keep track of Georgia’s EU aspirations, Polish MEP Anna Fotyga needs little introduction: the ECR diplomat has been a vocal supporter of Georgia in the European Parliament and was instrumental in the penning and subsequent adoption of the EP Resolution on the 10th anniversary of the 2008 August War. Additionally, MEP Fotyga has taken on an admirable habit of giving young Georgian leaders a taste of the day-to-day running of the EP, with GEORGIA TODAY’s very own Zviad Adzinbaia one of the beneficiaries. Her latest foray into all matters Georgian took the form of a high-level discussion dedicated to the legacy of the 2008 War, the very question we posed to her in an interview for GEORGIA TODAY.

10 years on - what do you think the legacy of the 2008 August War is?

I think there are two issues that should be raised. First and foremost, it’s good that we are able to remind politicians about the 10th anniversary of the Russian aggression on Georgia; good that we were able to debate it here in the European Parliament freely and to find consensus in the adoption of a common resolution that was quite strongly worded. After all the deliberation from the Russian side, I think the language was very proper and the diagnosis quite clear: the legacy is the acknowledgment of Russia's policies after the annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine. It’s a pity we spent such a long time acknowledging this fact and that there is still this rather regrettable temptation to marginalize countries that are in slightly worse situations in terms of security. Luckily, here in the European Parliament I think that awareness is much higher.

Why do you think there is a different position to that of Poland and yours when it comes to your Western European neighbors to this issue? They are much more reluctant to clearly state their position, much more skeptical and so on…

Even with the current difficulties, there is more “Poland” in the EU in terms of the perception of threats, particularly in Eastern Europe; within the region, the perception of threats in countries with a lot of Russian influence is consistent among the leadership. They see Russia’s attempts to destabilize and disinform large parts of societies [there]. We should remain vigilant. Of course, we would like to see Russia changing its attitude and Russian society empowered and pursuing our values, but I’m afraid it will take some time to achieve.

And in the meantime, Georgian people pay the price. What would be your message to the Georgian people, as a Polish and European diplomat?

To stay on track in the transatlantic and European aspirations. We in Poland keep the matter of the alliance with the United States very high on our political agenda and I think it is the same with the countries of South Caucasus, Georgia in particular. The leadership of the US, regardless of administration, is of key importance for the security of all of us; we have to rely on allies parallel to building our resilience in civilian areas and militarily. I believe that, with the exception of marginal forces, Georgian society is as well-prepared. I really compliment Georgian society, and in particular Georgian civil society, for bringing the values of the Western world into the country.

The leaders of the occupied “South Ossetia” and Abkhazia regions have complained that Europe is not talking to them. What would you tell the de-facto authorities if you had a chance of dialogue with them?

Such a dialogue is something I do not seek. There is a well-prepared plan outlined by the Georgian authorities how to improve the situation, in particular the people-to-people contacts, and also the economic standing of the South Ossetian and Abkhazian people. This plan is reasonable and has certain support from the EU, although naturally we stress that the territorial integrity of Georgia is of vital importance. We condemn any attempts to violate the borders of a sovereign country.

Exclusive interview by Vazha Tavberidze

MEP Anna Fotyga. Image source:

06 September 2018 18:53