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EU's Juncker pledges fresh aid for Georgia, drops hint of backing in disputes with Russia
BY 2018-05-28 07:29:43

BRUSSELS, May 27 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Saturday pledged 40 million euros as "financial support" for Georgia when the northern Caucasus country celebrated the centenary Independence Day.

In a press statement, Juncker depicted Georgia, which is bordering Russia, as "a country close to my heart, close to the heart of Europeans, because we are friends and partners, linked by our history and our geography."

"The more you reform, the more support we will give to you," he said in Tbilisi, underlining that the new funding brought to 597 million euros the total of EU financial support for Georgia from 2014 to 2018.

Juncker was visiting Georgia to mark the Independence Day, which featured a wide range of cultural, educational and entertainment activities all over the country.

"Georgia and the European Union always stand up for each other. We will always support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," he said in a speech at the ceremony of the independence day, alluding to territorial disputes between Georgia and Russia.

Georgia, a former Soviet republic, is having a strained relationship with Russia. It cut diplomatic ties with Russia following a brief armed conflict in August 2008 over the control of the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Georgia commemorates May 26 of 1918 as its national Independence Day when the country adopted the Act of Independence and established the First Democratic Republic of Georgia.

Georgia is engaged in the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative, which an EU factsheet said "is not against any country" and "is a mutually beneficial and constructive platform for countries in the region to build a closer relationship with the EU, if they so choose."

"Georgia is a country that has always been part of Europe and has always looked towards Europe...Our fates and our destinies have long been intertwined," Juncker said in his speech.

"But I want this special occasion to be the start of the next chapter in our common story," he said.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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