EU ministers eye 500-million-euro aid package for Georgia

Georgia Materials 15 September 2008 15:04 (UTC +04:00)

The European Commission is ready to provide "up to 500 million euros" (714 million dollars) in additional aid to Georgia to help it recover from the war with Russia, EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said Monday, reported dpa.

The European Union executive hopes that its proposal of a Stabilization and Growth Package for Georgia will be approved by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The additional money comes on top of the roughly 100 million euros already being planned for Georgia this year, and it will add to any bilateral aid being provided by the EU's individual member states.

The money would be spread over the 2008-2010 period and would be used in four major areas: refugees and internally displaced people, economic recovery, financial stabilization and infrastructure.

The package would be made conditional on Georgia enforcing democracy and political reform, Ferrero-Waldner said.

"The European Commission is at the heart of efforts to rebuild stability and shattered confidence in Georgia," the commissioner said.

"It is obvious that additional funds will be necessary," she added.

Though the package is also intended to cover Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a decision to this effect would have to be taken "in phases", the commissioner said.

Ferrero-Waldner also stressed that the commission would do its utmost to ensure that the money is not used by Georgia to buy weapons. Some recent reports have claimed that the Georgian authorities are using current EU funding to purchase arms.