I am rounding off a full day of meetings and events in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. It's my third visit to this beautiful country, but this time it is quite short - 24 hours - during which we have tried to fit in as much as possible.
It's an exciting time in the EU-Georgia relationship, with the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between us having been in place for 18 months now.
As I underlined in my speech earlier today to students at the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University, we are already seeing positive results. The EU is now Georgia's biggest export destination, receiving 29% of the country's exports - an increase of 15 percent in the first year of the trade agreement, and an important factor for growth and jobs. Georgian agricultural goods such as blueberries and kiwis are now available in supermarkets in the EU - a most welcome and economically significant development.
In my meetings here today with the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of the Economy, as well as with civil society and business representatives, I have discussed how our trade agreement is being put into practice, how the reform process is progressing, and which challenges still remain. We are putting in place EU4Business in Georgia, a platform in order to facilitate information, technical assistance and support to small and medium-sized businesses.
There have been strong and sustained efforts in Georgia to reform the judiciary and other sectors over the past several years. This was one of the deciding factors when the European Commission proposed visa-free travel for Georgians to the EU recently, an important process which I set in motion some years ago during my time as EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. I sincerely hope that the European Parliament and EU Member States in the Council will decide on this matter soon, in order to enable further trade amd people-to-people contacts between the EU and Georgia.
More about my visit to Tbilisi can be found here.