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EU courts Georgia's new leaders

Oct. 19, 2012 at 10:22 AM

TBILISI, Georgia, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The European Union looks forward to developing a strong working relationship with the new government in Georgia, an official said from Tbilisi.

Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili rolled out his list of Cabinet officials this week. Many of the ministers named were from the administration of former President Eduard Shevardnadze, ousted in the country's Rose Revolution in 2004.

Stefan Fule, enlargement commissioner for the European Union, welcomed the new political developments during his visit to Tbilisi. Both sides, he said, have made "substantial progress" toward strengthening political and economic ties.

"We want to develop this integration process still further, as long as Georgia continues to show that it is our willing partner accepting EU values and standards," he said in a statement.

Ivanishvili's slate beat the United National Movement of President Mikheil Saakashvili in early October. Saakashvili was criticized for going to war with Russia in 2008 over the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and for cutting diplomatic ties to Moscow.

"President Saakashvili and Mr. Ivanishvili have put their country's best interests first and we salute their statesmanship and their patriotism," said Fule. "The European Union counts on them to continue to work together in this constructive spirit."

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