The European Parliament on July 13 considered Rapporteur MEP Sven Mikser’s (S&D, EE) presentation of the draft of the annual report examining Georgia’s implementation of its EU Association Agreement. The rapporteur called on “Georgian authorities to uphold the highest standards of democracy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms.”
MEP Mikser urged authorities to “determinedly pursue the priorities for reforms set out in the [European] Commission’s opinion in order to unambiguously demonstrate the political determination to implement the nation’s ambitious European aspirations.”
Per Mikser, the report “regrets that deep polarization continues to be a defining feature of Georgia’s political environment,” and points to the EU-brokered April 19, 2021 agreement as the pathway towards strengthening democracy and rule of law in the nation.
Following the draft presentation, several MEPs had the opportunity to respond, including MEP Andrius Kubilius (EPP, LT) who discussed the European Commission’s recommendation of deoligarchization for Georgia and urged authorities to recognize that the only oligarch that must be dealt with is Bidzina Ivanishvili, ex-Prime Minister, and ruling Georgian Dream party founder.
The presentation of the draft was met by the reactions of Georgian politicians. Below is a sampling of reactions from both the ruling party and the opposition:
Shalva Papuashvili, Parliament Speaker: “Everyone who says that Bidzina Ivanishvili is an oligarch, insults the Georgian democracy, this [statements] is exactly the promotion of a radical agenda… I implore once again, also the members of the European Parliament, to look carefully into their own recommendation of depolarization and refrain from being the instigators of polarization, to stop helping the radical opposition in pushing their radical agenda. Such statements incite polarization and are against, among other things, the spirit of the European Union.”
Mikheil Sarjveladze, GD MP: “Decreasing the degree of polarization will be of the utmost importance, this is why this was spelled out as a separate point and it is significant for all sides to fully grasp their share od responsibility… As for judicial reform and any other issues that were highlighted in the 12 points, naturally, the government plans to work on this very seriously. I think [our efforts] will not go unnoticed by anyone and I hope they will be successful. The more of the opposition participates, the more the process can be presented in a positive way, but I am sure they also understand in Europe, that opposition’s [degree of] presence at the [negotiation] table does not fully depend on us.”
Roman Gotsiridze, United National Movement MP: “The Georgian Dream says that the Charles Michel agreement has nothing to do with any of this… [Even] when everyone mentions that the main issue of depolarization should be built on the basis of the Charles Michel agreement, and they mention it once again [now]. This is why they have to continue repeating and appealing to the Georgian Dream – do not ignore this document.”
Grigol Gegelia, Lelo for Georgia: “I think today we heard very clearly all the critical messages that have been repeated for years now, and which, unfortunately, the Georgian Dream government does not want to hear. [The key message] is that there is no alternative to reforms, that without justice, judicial reforms, democratization, and deoligarchization, this country has no European perspective.”
Gigi Tsereteli, European Georgia: “The more the leaders of the Georgian Dream argue about this , the more often it will be explained in the European Parliament and by the West that [Bidzina] Ivanishvili is the factor and when they say deoligarchization, they mean Ivanishvili, and not someone else. Today, it was said loud and clear.”