The European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) previewed on May 19 the implementation report of the European Union Association Agreement with Georgia prepared by MEP Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia).
While positively assessing the implementation of the AA and progress in adoption of reforms and legislation, in his draft report the MEP also identified number of areas of concern, including the situation of the judiciary, that “continues to be worrisome due to shortcomings of the selection procedures of judges” as well as “a series of cases against the opposition which raised concerns about the impartiality of the legal system.”
Addressing the MEPs with a video-conference, MEP Mikser noted that the AA covers broad array of policy areas that are relevant for the EU-Georgia relations, underlining that “most important of among them” are political dialogue, rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, economic and trade relations.
Noting that there is broad consensus among major political groups in the European Parliament to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and its “legitimate aspirations to integrate more closely with European structures,” MEP Mikser said “success of those efforts is very much conditional on Georgia’s ability to implement the necessary reforms.”
“I believe it is of utmost importance that the agreement of March 8 is implemented in its entirety both in letter and spirit,” Mikser added.
In the draft report the MEP called on Georgian parties to ensure that March 8 agreement is “translated into law and fully implemented as soon as possible.” It also called on the Georgian authorities to “implement swiftly and fully” the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations.
Expressing concern about “recent court cases against opposition politicians,” which “led to a polarization of politics and society” the draft report called on Georgian authorities to “respect the highest standards of judicial independence and fair trial as committed to under the AA.”
The draft report also called for revision of selection procedures for judges in line with Venice Commission recommendations and expressed regret that the Supreme Court justices selection process “suffered from serious shortcomings.”
Reiterating full support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the draft report deplored “the constant violations by the Russian Federation, which exercises de facto control of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions, of the fundamental rights of the people in these occupied regions, who are being deprived of the freedom of movement and residence, the right to property and the right of access to education in the native language, and reiterate[d] its full support for the right of return of internally displaced persons.”
It also encouraged “the speeding up of the implementation of the third National Environment Action Programme and the approximation of Georgian legislation with the EU acquis relating to the environment, in line with the AA requirements on environmental protection;