EU Releases Association Implementation Report on Georgia

A new Association Implementation Report on Georgia, released by the European External Action Service on August 13, stated that the EU Association Agreement has been a driver for reforms in the country and that “overall, the process of aligning national law with EU law as part of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) is well on track and progressing…”

It emphasized, however, that such challenges as local election shortcomings, July 5-6 homophobic pogroms, reports of wiretapping of parts of Georgian society, and other vital issues “threatened to undermine the country’s democratic foundations…”

The document also stated that “In 2021, Georgia’s alignment rate with relevant High Representative statements on behalf of the EU and Council Decisions was 53%, marking a decrease from 62% in 2020. During the first half of 2022, the rate further decreased to 42%.”

2020 Parliamentary and 2021 Local Elections

Regarding the 2020 Parliamentary elections, it noted that per the observation mission’s final report by the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), “the elections had been competitive and overall, fundamental freedoms had been respected.”

However, it underscored that “pervasive allegations of pressure on voters and blurring the line between the ruling [Georgian Dream] party and the state had reduced public confidence in some aspects of the process.”

Along that line, it pointed out that opposition parties expressed doubt over the vote’s legitimacy and refused to take up their mandates.

The document also draws attention to the EU-brokered April 19 agreement between the ruling party and the opposition in 2021, which “ended the opposition boycott and outlined a shared way forward on key reforms.” It stressed, however, that the Georgian Dream left the agreement in July 2021 and that the largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), joined it only after the ruling party left.

“Key parts of the agreement – notably on judicial reform and power-sharing in Parliament – remain unfulfilled at the time of writing,” the document stated.

On the basis of OSCE/ODIHR’s election observation report, it noted that the 2021 local elections were “generally well administered, but continued polarization, coupled with escalation of negative rhetoric, adversely affected the process.”

It added that while the campaign was competitive and candidates could generally campaign freely, “allegations of intimidation and pressure on voters persisted. Sharp imbalances in resources and undue advantage of incumbency further benefited the ruling party and tilted the playing field.”

Judicial Reforms

“Reforms in the judiciary stalled over the past year and even regressed in key areas,” the document stated and added that this occurred despite Georgian authorities promising on many occasions to increase the independence, accountability, and quality of the judicial system including through aligning amendments to the process for selecting Supreme Court Judges with the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission’s opinions on the issue.

“According to the final monitoring report of the OSCE/ODIHR, the stage of the appointment procedure carried out by Parliament still lacks appropriate safeguards, undermining the integrity of the overall process,” it remarked.

In that context, the document highlighted that despite calls from the EU and Council of Europe to pause further judicial appointments, the Conference of Judges appointed six judges to the High Council of Justice (HCoJ) in a “hasty manner, without prior announcement, and without the required scrutiny” and that vacancies for five non-judge members of the HCoJ remain unfilled.

The report also mentioned that despite the Venice Commission’s recommendations and the April 19 agreement, the provision on the election of the next Prosecutor General did not survive the first vote in Parliament.

Politically Sensitive Court Cases

Speaking about politically sensitive court cases, the document highlighted the removal of parliamentary immunity for UNM chairperson Nika Melia, and his detention; passing a guilty verdict against Lelo for Georgia leaders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze; the imprisonment of opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV chief Nika Gvaramia; as well as the publication of footage of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s stay in prison and alleged violation of the right to attend one’s own trial.


The report also brought attention to allegations of widespread wiretapping of the Georgian public and diplomats which were published in September 2021 when the media received large amounts of files based on private telephone conversations. It noted that the investigation remains pending.

The report denoted that amendments made in the meantime to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia on 7 June 2022 which extend the scope of crimes for which covert investigations are justified and the duration of those investigations has “raised concerns over the right to privacy.”

The law was vetoed by President Salome Zurabishvili on 22 June 2022.

Media Environment

Regarding the media environment in Georgia, the document emphasized that it remained diverse but “highly polarized.” It also remarked on the fact that Georgia’s press freedom rankings “significantly” worsened in 2022 when it ranked 89 among 180 countries.

It also highlighted that the far-right Alt Info group acquired nationwide TV broadcasting rights.

The document brought attention to the July 5-6 homophobic pogroms in which more than 50 journalists covering Tbilisi Pride were violently assaulted by far-right mobs and the government and law enforcement officers “failed to sufficiently protect the right to peaceful assembly and the safety of demonstrations.”

It noted that while legal measures against attackers are ongoing, the organizers have not been charged.

State Inspector’s Service, Public Defender, and Civil Society

The document stressed that the decision to dismantle the State Inspector’s Service without prior consultation and the creation of two separate institutions instead prompted “concerns over the risk to institutional independence.”

“The OSCE/ODIHR Opinion on the Legislative Amendments on the State Inspector’s Service of Georgia of 18 February 2022, found that the process by which these amendments were carried out risks undermining the rule of law and the functioning of independent institutions in Georgia,” it added.

Regarding the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia, the document emphasized that it continued to play “an important role in providing oversight” but that her recommendations were only “partially followed” by Georgian authorities.

It also stated that the office “came under pressure for being vocal on certain politically sensitive issues… and attempts were made to undermine its independence and to cast doubts over the integrity of the office and its staff.”

“Civil society remained very active and involved in monitoring the implementation of the AA, including DCFTA, in policy formulation, and in holding the government accountable, including to some extent at the local level,” the document noted.

Gender Equality and Equal Rights

The document emphasized that gender equality continues to remain a challenge, especially in relation to gender-based and domestic violence. It stated that this “demonstrates the importance of stepping up support for survivors…”

The document also said that 2021 was a problematic year in terms of equal treatment, especially for LGBTQ people, as demonstrated by the July 5 violence.

Read the full report here.

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