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European Parliament releases resolution on AA and DCFTA for Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, January 22
The European Parliament has published a resolution on the implementation of the Association Agreements/ Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

In the document, the European Parliament welcomed the positive evaluation by the Commission with regards to visa liberalisation for Ukraine and Georgia in the latest assessment of the implementation of the visa liberalisation action plans with the two countries; it is expected that the Council of Europe and its Member States will proceed to grant the two countries a visa-free travel regime without undue delay.

The document reiterated the EUís support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the countries in Eastern Europe and underlined that the agreements - including free trade provisions - should be implemented in a way which facilitated the resolution of territorial conflicts.

Meanwhile, the document highlighted the need for the judiciary to be absolutely independent in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, and stressed the importance of media freedom.

The resolution also mentioned the change of Prime Minister in Georgia in late December 2015 and welcomed the statements in favour of cooperation with the parliamentary opposition.

It also welcomed the recent reforms by the Georgian authorities to further strengthen the stability, independence and effectiveness of state institutions - in particular the judicial institutions- and the efforts to consolidate the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The resolution called for the establishment of transparent, merit-based selection of judges and for a change in the 3-year term of the probation system for judges. It also stressed that prosecutions must be transparent, evidence-based, proportionate and free from political motivation, and should adhere strictly to investigatory procedures and due processes and be conducted in full respect of the principles of a fair trial.

The resolution text praised the changes in the Labour Code in Georgia. However, it stated that health and safety legislation regarding labour rights must still be at the top of the national agenda. The EU document also reiterated the Unionís concern over the fate of the children placed in residential religious institutions without state oversight and stressed the responsibility of the government under international human rights law to protect all children from violence, and called for measures to ensure effective investigation and rehabilitation for children affected by ill-treatment and/or sexual abuse.

The document also touched on the detention of former state officials, considering that the detentions and imprisonment of officials who served under previous governments and members of the current opposition could be seen as signs of selective justice.

On this note, it expressed concern about the potential use of the judicial system to fight against political opponents, which could undermine Georgiaís European course and the efforts of the Georgian authorities in the area of democratic reform.

With regards to the upcoming 2016 elections, the resolution called on the Georgian Government to create a favourable environment for free media which promotes freedom of expression and media pluralism, and to allow the media to report independently and objectively without political or economic pressure.

The European Parliament revealed its concerns over recent attempts to change the ownership and editorial policy of Georgiaís most popular independent TV channel, Rustavi 2, and as well as the freedom of the media in general in the country.

In this regard, for the full implementation of the law on transparency of media ownership, it reiterated that any court ruling should not undermine the independence of the mediaís editorial policies.

The organisation also called on the Georgian Government to initiate reforms of electoral laws in order to ensure better proportional and pluralistic representation, in line with international and European requirements and the ruling of the Georgian Constitutional Court.

The European Parliament also stressed the need to accelerate the implementation of food safety regulations on the ground and improve inter-agency cooperation in Georgia in order to deliver the desired DCFTA results; it also called on the Georgian Government to ensure that civil society is properly involved in the reform processes.