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European Parliament welcomes progress of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and urges Russia to leave

By Messenger Staff
Monday, January 25
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution for Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova on how the nations fulfilled their obligations drafted through the Association Agreements (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).

The resolution welcomed the progress of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine on their "chosen path of closer political and economic integration with the European Union (EU)”.

Members of the Parliament of the European Union (MEPs) subsequently called on Russia to end its direct or indirect involvement in conflicts in the territories of all three nations.

The resolution highlighted that since signing the AA deal between Georgia and the EU, Georgia’s exports to the EU rose by 15%.

MEPs also point out that EU financial support must be matched by concrete progress on reform.

Together with praising Georgia for its large-scaled and successful reforms, MEPs also expressed their worries about the independence of the judiciary and possible threats to media pluralism in Georgia, specifically referring to the lawsuit over the ownership of the Rustavi 2 broadcaster.

They backed the idea of sending an EU expert mission to oversee the case.

They also criticize "blurred criteria" for appointing prosecutors and investigators and also the pressure exerted on judges at the Constitutional Court of Georgia.

Responding to the resolution, Georgia’s Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Davit Bakradze, stressed that Georgia “gained high scores in the resolution”.

“We can say that Georgia received very high assessments in terms of fulfilling the obligations set through the AA and DCFTA deals,” the Minister said.

With regards to the Rustavi 2 case, the Minister emphasised that it was the current Georgian Government’s initiative to invite a group of foreign experts to Georgia and familiarise them with the details of the case.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili thanked the European Parliament for the resolution and said that 80% of the document was positive, though there were certain concerns in the remaining 20%.

In a special statement, the PM spoke about the concerns and highlighted that even in those directions the Government has done its utmost.

Speaking about the MEPs’ remarks on judiciary and court-related issues, the PM emphasised that a range of reforms had been carried out in both directions, among them a four-phased judiciary reform agenda aimed at depoliticising the High Council of Justice and increasing its transparency.

With regards to the concerns over the Prosecutor’s Office, the PM stated that in autumn 2015, a gender-balanced, 15-member Prosecutorial Council was established to consist of prosecutors elected by their peers, representatives of legislature, the judiciary and civil society organizations.

“In developing the draft law, the Ministry of Justice worked closely with the Venice Commission and took on board 35 out of the 37 recommendations made by this expert body before submitting it to Parliament.

“Similarly, changes have been made in the application of pre-trial detention The maximum pre-trial period has been limited to nine months with no possibility of extension even if new charges are pressed,” Kvirikashvili said.

Mentioning the importance of free media, the PM stated that the GD Government provided every opportunity for media freedom.

On this note, the PM responded to questions raised in terms of Rustavi 2 private broadcaster’s ownership issue.

We did our best to ensure media freedom without damaging property ownership rights, which are also fundamental to democracy. In addition, the judicial process remains independent, transparent and protected from any political interference,” Kvirikashvili said.