EU says Georgia has acted on most its key recommendations
By Ana Robakidze
Friday, March 22
The European Commission presented its annual European Neighborhood Package (ENP) on March 20th. The ENP details political and economic development among the EU's six Eastern Partnership countries, as well as countries in the southern Mediterranean. The ENP outlines areas and recommendations where further efforts are needed. The ENP is also a key factor in determining the amount of EU funds that will be granted to individual member states later this year.
According to the report Georgia, Moldova, and to a certain extent Armenia have reformed the most in the recent year and accordingly will benefit from additional funds from Brussels.
“There was intense EU-Georgia political dialogue in 2012. Negotiations on an EU-Georgia association agreement, including a deep and comprehensive free trade area, made significant progress during the year. Georgia also advanced in implementing visa facilitation and readmission agreements. Progress was registered in fighting corruption and in deepening freedoms of assembly and association. The October 2012 elections marked a genuinely democratic transfer of power. Concerns persisted about judicial reform and the media sector. Georgia acted on most of the key recommendations in last year's ENP progress report. It ensured broadly free and fair parliamentary elections. It also strengthened freedom of expression and opinion; continued to reform the justice system and advanced sectoral reforms and regulations approximating EU standards.” Georgia's ENP Country Progress Reports reads.
The progress report on Georgia says that "...so far, cohabitation has been particularly tense." and calls on Georgia to "...ensure respect for the roles of the Prime Minister and President under the Constitution" as well as ensure that constitutional amendments, if contemplated, are subject to comprehensive consultation domestically and with the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, the Venice Commission, "to ensure that they stand the test of time."
The EU also calls on Georgia to "maintain and improve Georgia’s constructive participation in the Geneva International."
The progress report also recommends that Georgia address shortcoming in its electoral laws; reform the justice system to ensure the full independence of the judiciary; ensure that criminal prosecutions are conducted in a transparent and impartial manner in order to avoid any perception of selective justice; increase the accountability and democratic oversight of law enforcement agencies; conduct a thorough investigation into the use of torture in the penitentiary system; continue to strengthen media pluralism and independence; adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and ensure the rights of minorities, including religious minorities, are respected.
The EU report says that “Following the change of government, there are some encouraging signs of possibly more effective engagement with the breakaway territories, and a more relaxed implementation of the Law on Occupied Territories.” However Georgia is still advised to review the more restrictive aspects of the Law on Occupied Territories.
Europe welcomes the fact the Georgia has followed the majority of its previous recommendations. However there still are some challenges the country has to accomplish.
According to Stefan Fule, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, the EU needs to increase efforts to help the countries in the report meet goals to become members of the European Union.
"The Eastern Partnership countries need our continued support to deliver on their commitments, and it is my conviction that they deserve an ambitious future." Fule said. Speaking about Georgia, Fule said that the situation has been constructive in the country. He hopes that the ongoing dialogue between Georgian Dream and the UNM opposition will solve problems with cohabitation.