On February 12-13, European Parliament in Strasbourg hosted the 9th meeting of EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC). The Committee failed to adopt a joint statement, which later triggered ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition to trade accusations.
The Association Committee, which provides parliamentary oversight over the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, was co-chaired by Davit Songulashvili, chairperson of the Parliamentary European integration committee, and Marina Kaljurand, social-democrat MEP from Estonia.
Georgian opposition lawmaker members of PAC, Salome Samadashvili of the United National Movement and Otar Kakhidze of European Georgia party were the first ones to announce that the Committee could not agree on a joint statement.
MP Kakhidze claimed the ruling party MPs opposed the number of amendments in the joint statement text, initiated by the members of the European Parliament.
Georgian Dream MP Kakha Kuchava said that while ruling party lawmakers supported number of amendments, they did not endorse the ones that “often sounded absurd.” According to Kuchava’s comment released by the Georgian Parliament’s press office, there were “approximately 38 amendments” proposed.
The original draft text, as well as proposed amendments in English, currently remains unavailable to the media.
MP Songulashvili, co-chair of PAC slammed Georgian opposition’s efforts to denigrate the country as an “anti-state” activity.
MP Salome Samadashvili wrote on her Facebook that “Georgian Dream blocked the adoption of the document that among other important issues, expressed support to Georgia’s EU membership.”
Following the meeting, co-chair Marina Kaljurand said ‘the European parliament is following closely the situation in Georgia and hopes that the government and the opposition will jointly find solutions to the problems that are disturbing the Georgian people and hindering the country;s rapprochement with the European Union.
“We are European-Georgian family and Georgia has our full support for closer European integration, even if we do not always agree on everything,” she said in a separate tweet.
Getting ready for family photo. We are European-Georgian family and Georgia has our full support for closer European integration, even if we do not always agree on everything. @Europarl_EN @EP_ForeignAff @MarketkaG @OtarKakhidze @natasabanadze @Georgia_In_EU pic.twitter.com/KnekA9j7Zb
— Marina Kaljurand MEP (@MarinaKaljurand) February 13, 2020
MEP Markéta Gregorová of Czech Pirate Party tweeted that “we voted down today a Final Statement of the parliamentary meeting between EU and Georgia,” noting that “it is not a signal to the Georgian people; we keep supporting you on your European way. It is a signal to the Georgian government, that we see the controversies and take them seriously.”
PAC meeting coincides with deepening political crisis in Georgia that further aggravated following the Georgian Supreme Court’s February 10 ruling against Gigi Ugulava, former Tbilisi Mayor who was sent to prison to 38 months for embezzling GEL 48 million (USD 17 million) while serving as the head of the Georgian capital.
In response to the ruling, Georgian opposition quit electoral reform dialogue with the ruling party. major opposition parties now plan to hold April 4 rally, where they are expected to present joint action plan for crucial parliamentary polls of October.
Georgia’s international partners raised concerns about jailing opposition leader, as well as the collapse of election talks. Leading MEPs on EU-Georgia relations, including PAC co-chair Kaljurand released statement on February 13, noting that Ugulava verdict “raises questions regarding the procedure, timing and motivation of the decision.”