Members of the European and Georgian Parliament gathered for the tenth session of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee in Brussels on February 10.
The Association Committee, which keeps track of the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, was co-chaired by MEP Marina Kaljurand (S&D, Estonia), Chair of European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, and Maka Bochorishvili, Chair of Georgia’s Parliamentary European Integration Committee.
The meeting was also attended by MEPs, Georgian Dream and opposition lawmakers, as well as Reconciliation Minister Tea Akhvlediani and Deputy Foreign Ministers Lasha Darsalia and Teimuraz Janjalia.
MEP Kaljurand’s statement
MEP Kaljurand stated on February 14 that while the European lawmakers welcomed the Georgian authorities’ commitment to “further harmonize” legislation with the EU, “the situation could still be improved when it comes to certain areas, including the accountability of law enforcement agencies, the independence of the judiciary and the fight against the discrimination of vulnerable groups and minorities.”
Namely, she said the MEPs during the meeting raised concerns over “the shortcomings of the 2020 legislative elections and 2021 municipal elections as listed in the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission reports; the continued appointments of Supreme Court judges; the recent reform of the Common Courts; the hasty abolition of the State Inspector’s Service; and the slow progress on the Constitutional reform.”
“We recalled that the promised investigations into the wiretapping of wide parts of Georgia’s society and of diplomats, including the EU Ambassador, need to deliver clear answers in the near future,” the lawmaker stressed.
Besides, MEP Kaljurand said the MEPs underscored that while the Georgian law outlaws all forms of discrimination, the situation of LGBT+ persons “remains challenging, as tragically exemplified by the violent attacks against over 50 journalists and peaceful demonstrators that forced the cancellation of the Tbilisi Pride March on 5 July 2021.”
She stressed the MEPs expect the organizers and perpetrators of the violence to be brought to justice, in accordance with “Georgia’s laws and international commitments.”
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The MEP’s statement also highlighted EU-brokered April 19 deal “continues to offer a European way towards building a stronger democracy and the rule of law” in the country amid polarization of political and media landscapes. “We reiterated the European Parliament’s readiness to facilitate a Jean Monnet Dialogue as a way to foster constructive cooperation between political parties in the Parliament of Georgia.”
According to the lawmaker, the sides also discussed a set of reforms Georgia is carrying out to fulfill the Association Agreement, with the MEPs welcoming the Georgian authorities’ willingness to “exploit the vast potential of the AA/DCFTA.”
Also, the European lawmakers commended the introduction of mandatory gender quotas in the Parliament and Local Councils as well as the adoption of the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The statement also stressed the European lawmakers’ support for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemned Russia’s actions resulting in deterioration of the security and human rights situation in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and pledged support for EU’s efforts to “foster a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”
Georgian delegation’s Statements
The Parliament stated on February 11 that the Co-Chair of the meeting, Maka Bochorishvili, underscored the need to establish new formats of cooperation to deepen Georgia’s integration into the EU, including by facilitating expert and political dialogue.
She said this became evident after Georgia announced its 2024 EU membership application bid, and also argued the country on its part continues to carry out the necessary reforms for EU rapprochement.
Meanwhile, Reconciliation Minister Tea Akhvlediani reviewed the humanitarian and human rights situation in the occupied regions, touching upon ethnic discrimination, restrictions on freedom of movement, installment of barbed wire fences and other barriers and restrictions on the access to education in the Georgian language.
The Reconciliation Ministry reported on February 11 that she stressed the importance of the EU’s efforts to secure the release of arbitrarily detained Georgian citizens and highlighted the need to bring the perpetrators to justice in the deaths of Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria, Archil Tatunashvili and Irakli Kvaratskhelia.
The Foreign Ministry stated on February 12 that Deputy Minister Lasha Darsalia on his part informed the participants of intensified “de-facto annexation processes” and militarization of the Russian-occupied regions.
He also stressed the need for Russia to uphold its commitments of the August 12, 2008, EU-mediated ceasefire agreement, according to the same report.
Deputy Minister Janjalia meanwhile stressed the need for deepening EU-Georgia cooperation in defense and security and laid out the goals of the Associated Trio of Tbilisi, Kyiv and Chișinău.
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