The European Commission has reported a joint staff working document on the Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Georgia on March 27, according to which Georgia successfully completes most EU recommendations in 2013.
EU reports on progress in Georgia
By Tatia Megeneishvili
Monday, March 31
The report says that political dialogue between the EU and the Georgian government was intensive in 2013, and included a number of high-level meetings both with the new and the old government representatives in and out of Georgia.
The presidential elections in October 2013 were carried out transparently in the country and fully complied with international standards, according to the report. The Georgian government successfully completed a comprehensive phase of the transfer of power without hindering the processes of reforms and rapprochement with the EU.
“In 2013 and first few months of 2014, Georgia navigated successfully a complex and unprecedented transition with two landmark elections in which power changed hands peacefully, two changes of Prime Minister, change of President, a functioning cohabitation and a constitutional shift in the political system, moving away from the one party-dominated state and at the same time tackling the legacies of past abuse – while it continued to deliver on a busy reform and approximation agenda in the framework of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area and Visa Liberalization Action Plan,” the statement reads.
The report also focuses on Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, suggesting peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Georgia. "Following the change of government, there have been many positive signs and some cautious steps towards a more open and effective engagement with the breakaway regions, while more decisive steps such as substantively reviewing restrictive aspects of the law on occupied territories are still pending,” it suggests.
Nevertheless, the report says that 35 former officials of the previous government had been charged with criminal offences at the time of writing.
“Accusations range from embezzlement to the abuse of power and torture. Fourteen are in pre-trial detention, 14 have been released on bail, one was released without restrictive measures, one has been pardoned by the president after conviction and five have left the country,” the report says.
The report also touched upon the issue about prison reform, stressing that the reforms have moved towards a rehabilitative rather than a punitive approach and radical changes were introduced in prison management policies.
“There are, however, concerns that this may lead to the renewed empowerment of informal power structures among inmates, including the thieves-in-law mafia,” the report reads, stressing that “the prison population was halved, with fewer than 10, 000 inmates remaining in the system after an amnesty in January, legal changes and presidential pardons.”
The report calls on Georgia to work on adequate separation of powers and checks and balances between executive, legislative and the judicial powers; reforming the justice system to ensure full independence of the judiciary; ensuring criminal prosecutions are conducted in a transparent and impartial manner; ensuring prosecution activities are performed according to the highest standards of independence; ensuring that pre-trial detention is used only as an exceptional measure; increasing accountability and democratic oversight of law enforcement agencies; strengthening media pluralism and independence; adopting comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.