Georgia, EU to start associate membership talks
Tbilisi, July 15 (Interfax) - The first round of talks on Georgia's associate membership of the European Union will begin in Batumi on Thursday, July 15.
The European Union will be represented by Hugues Mingarelli, deputy director general for external relations, and Georgia will be represented by Tornike Gordadze, a deputy foreign minister, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
An associate membership agreement between Georgia and the European Union will replace the current agreement on cooperation and partnership, and deepen relations in priority areas of cooperation, the ministry said.
"The new agreement will give Georgia political association with the European Union, as all as an opportunity for step-by-step economic integration," it said.
Talks will be opened by the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who will arrive in Georgia on Thursday, July 15.