On July 13, The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) adopted with 56 votes in favor, 8 against and 6 abstentions, its new report taking stock of the implementation of the EU Association Agreement with Georgia.
The MEPs welcomed the continuous deepening of EU-Georgia relations and acknowledged its recent progress in implementing comprehensive overall reforms, which “has made Georgia a key partner of the EU in the region.”
In the meantime, the European lawmakers “issued a reminder” to the Georgian authorities saying that “enhanced cooperation and EU assistance (..) are conditional on continued reform progress on, in particular, democracy and rule of law, including checks and balances in the institutions, independence of the judiciary and electoral reform.”
Commending all major political parties in Georgia for agreeing on the new electoral system for October parliamentary polls, the MEPs said the elections will be “pivotal in confirming Georgia’s democratic credentials.” The lawmakers then expressed their hope for “an electoral campaign marked by fair competition.”
Highlighting that Georgia’s media landscape is “dynamic and pluralistic, but also polarized,” the MEPs urged the Georgian authorities to “refrain from interfering in media freedom, pursuing politically motivated judicial cases against media owners and take steps to prevent disinformation campaigns by both foreign and domestic actors.”
- CSOs: Press Freedom Situation ‘Alarming’ in Georgia
- Media Advocacy Coalition: Adjara TV Continues to Persecute Journalists
In this context, the lawmakers underlined the importance of editorial independence and non-discriminatory coverage of political views in programs by private and, in particular, public broadcasters during the upcoming electoral campaign.
The MEPs regretted that the recent appointment of Supreme Court justices “was not entirely in line” with the Venice Commission recommendations and “suffered from serious shortcomings.” They stressed the importance of a depoliticized judiciary free from political interference as of utmost importance.
The lawmakers reminded the Georgian authorities that strengthening the rule of law and media freedom “are also both clear elements of Georgia’s commitments under its Association Agreement with the EU and necessary to further deepen relations between the parties.”
“During an election year, it is of critical importance that the Georgian authorities and all political actors conduct themselves responsibly and live up to their commitments to each other and to their international partners, so as not to let their achievements and aspirations fall victim to internal political tensions”, noted European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Georgia Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia) after the vote.
The MEPs also deplored “the constant violations by Russia” in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, of the fundamental rights of the people living in these regions, who are being deprived of their liberties and rights.”
The report will now be submitted for approval by the European Parliament as a whole, that is currently scheduled for September.
- Mikser Presents Draft Report on Georgia’s AA Implementation
- MEPs Assess AA Implementation, Expect Free, Fair Polls in October
- MEPs Welcome Georgia’s Electoral Reform Agreement
- In Quotes: MEPs on Recent Developments in Georgia