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European Parliament discussed implementation of the EU Association Agreement with Georgia

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, May 22
At a meeting of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels on May 19th, lawmakers discussed the report of Sven Mikser, a permanent rapporteur on Georgia and a member of the European Parliament. The prepared report on the implementation of the Association Agreement with the European Union (which also includes the draft resolution of the European Parliament) was presented in March, but due to the coronavirus, the process has been delayed.

Sven Mikser, a spokeswoman for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, said that Georgia had successfully dealt with the fight against the pandemic and received significant financial support from the European Union.

The need to implement the agreement reached between the government and the opposition, which has become controversial, was also stressed.

MEPs announced that the March 8 agreement has to be fully implemented, that Giorgi Rurua ("Another Political Prisoner") should be released, that electoral reform must be finalised and quality elections held. To a large extent, the final form of the report and resolution on Georgia will depend on the resolution of these issues. The Georgian government remains in the old position - there are no political prisoners in Georgia, and the Georgian Dream has always been committed to the March 8 agreement.

Mikser announced that implementing the March 8 agreement in accordance with the text and the spirit is important for leaving the political deadlock and reducing political polarization, which is a vital precondition for sustainable progress in other areas of association policy.

The report stressed on the protection of media freedom and equal access to the media for all political parties - especially during the pre-election period. The need for support for gender equality and the fight against discrimination is also emphasised.

In his report Mikser also highlighted the need for respect for the highest standards of judicial independence and fair justice, which is one of the key commitments made by Georgia under the Association Agreement.

During the speech at committee discussion he called on the Georgian authorities to fully comply with the recommendations of the Venice Commission before further approval of judges for senior positions.

The deadline for changes in the text of the report expired on May 20th. Voting at the committee meeting is scheduled for July 14th, and according to Mikser, the report will be able to reflect the concrete results of the dynamic process, including whether the March 8 agreement will be fully implemented and whether the process will be crowned with constitutional changes.

It is expected that the text of the draft resolution of the European Parliament, which is given in the March 23rd version of the report, will be changed. So far, for example, we find such a record:

MEPs express concern over cases of opposition politicians who have contributed to the increase in mistrust and escalation of tensions between the ruling party and the opposition, leading to the polarization of politics and society, as well as over the recent selection of Supreme Court judges for serious shortcomings.

European Parliament calls on Georgia to respect the highest standards of independence and fair trial in accordance with the Association Agreement and to review the procedures for selecting judges to ensure that the recommendations of the Venice Commission are fully implemented before any new appointments.

Almost all speakers spoke on May 19th about the need to implement the March 8th agreement. In this context, like David McAllister, chairman of the foreign affairs committee (EPP), the need for the release of Giorgi Rurua was emphasized by the representative of the Conservatives and Reformists group, MEP Anna Fotiga.

Like many other MEPs, she wrote on social media about political retribution and the existence of political prisoners in Georgia. Accordingly, hse also considered the release of Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili as release of political prisoners. However, the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, responded to her welcoming statement on Twitter, saying, I have not forgiven political prisoners.