A new Association Implementation Report on Georgia, released by the European External Action Service on February 9, highlighted Georgia’s continued commitment “to the implementation, obligations, and undertakings of the Association Agreement,” albeit noting shortcomings regarding judiciary independence and democratic consolidation.
The report triggered varying reactions among the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties.
Ruling Party Reactions
“Not only the implementation of the Association Agreement but in general the current progress, the reforms that are being implemented in our country are positively assessed,” said Deputy Parliament Speaker Kakhaber Kuchava.
He remarked that the report calls on major opposition parties currently boycotting the legislature to “make use of the parliamentary format,” adding that the alleviation of the political situation in Georgia hinges on the opposition acting more “constructively.”
Reiterating that Georgia plans to apply for EU membership in 2024, ruling party MP Giorgi Khelashvili said the report recognizes that “we are on the right track.”
“The report was good, as it contains recommendations on what the country should do, and among them, on what the Parliament should do,” he concluded.
United National Movement (UNM) party member Salome Samadashvili said the report is another reminder that the responsibility for the ongoing political crisis “lies entirely with the Georgian Dream.”
“Our demands, regarding the politicized justice system in the country… are confirmed by the EU – that there is no independent judiciary in the country,” she added.
Vakhtang Kaloiani of the European Georgia party said the report emphasizes “the need for consensus” between the opposition and the ruling party, to overcome the existing political impasse.
Consensus, he added, can only be achieved by implementing the March 8 agreement and by meeting the opposition’s key demands – holding snap elections, releasing “political prisoners,” reforming the Electoral Administration and the Election Code, as well as amending the electoral system.
While welcoming that the EU took note of “certain progress” made by the Georgian Government, Lelo party’s Grigol Gegelia said the report also highlights “serious failures” concerning “free elections, judicial reform, and a consolidated democratic system.”
Noting that the “Georgian Dream is manipulating with the issue of applying for EU membership in 2024,” Gegelia asserted that “such ambition is not backed by fundamental changes in crucial and critical areas such as democracy and justice.”