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Georgian President not invited to attend AA ratification

By Messenger Staff
Monday, July 21
On July 17th Georgia’s parliament ratified the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union. Parliament voted anonymously to support the ratification. The agreement which covers a total of 1,600 pages also includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.

The next step Georgian lawmakers should take is to introduce the necessary amendments that comply with EU legislation. Eventually all EU states will ratify the agreement before it comes completely into force.

Georgia went about ratifying the document in a very peculiar way. The issue concerns the relations between President Giorgi Margevalshvili and the government headed by Irakli Gharibashvili. For instance, the president did not receive an official invitation from the Parliament to attend the AA ratification process. Georgian Dream MPs said the president does not need a special invitation to visit the Parliament. In the session the EU commissioner Stefan Fule, high-ranking officials from EU countries and representatives of the diplomatic corps in Georgia were present. However, the Georgian president was not present. Some hours later, President Margvealshvili entered the session room and even delivered a short speech after the ratification procedures.

Everybody knows that Margvelashvili was Ivanishvili’s project. However, sometime after the presidential elections the situation changed. Margvelashvili took several steps that resulted in the dissatisfaction of the Georgian Dream leadership. A couple of times this kind of confrontation became public and the parties appeared to become a joke.

Either way, the document was signed, and everybody supported the AA. PM Gharibashvili in his welcoming speech addressed Abkhazians and Ossetians and encouraged them to participate in the different programs offered within the AA.

Although, the Georgian Dream coalition and the parliamentary opposition UNM were unanimous in their support of the document, the UNM still continues accusing the Georgian Dream of politically persecuting its members. The slogan “EU without political prisoners” was displayed in the Parliament building. The overwhelming support of the AA with the EU does not mean there are no pro-Russian parties in the country. There is a segment of the Georgian population with some sympathy towards Moscow and these people believe Tbilisi should move closer to its northern neighbor. Currently, experts in legislation should interpret the formulas presented in the document so that Georgian entrepreneurs understand what is what and who is who. Some non parliament opposition representatives criticize the document, saying that it will be damaging to Georgia’s agriculture sector and overall business. According to the AA, there are restrictions on selling many of its agricultural products at prices lower than EU prices. This will make it very difficult for Georgia to maintain affordable prices for its population and that will definitely harm the Georgian economy.

They also claim that the non-visa regime will be enjoyed by only Georgians who have stable incomes only. It will not provide a visa-free regime for Georgians to look for jobs within the EU countries. Also, there are a number of issues that are not clear enough. The text of the AA should be studied thoroughly, interpreted and explained to the population.