Georgian Government Slammed in European Parliament Debate

During the debates on Georgia at the European Parliament’s Plenary session, which took place on March 14, following the last weeks protests in Tbilisi against the Foreign Agents law adoption, and the eventual striking down of the law by the Parliament,  the MEPs heavily criticized the Georgian Dream government and expressed solidarity and support to the pro-European aspirations of the Georgian people.  

EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi welcomed the expression of the will of Georgians who “exercised their right to peaceful demonstration. He said that “European path sets the bar high” and that “Georgians have a future in the EU”. But, he stressed  “Georgia needs to implement reforms”. He noted that “comprehensive assessment of Georgia’s progress in meeting accession criteria will be carried out for the first time as part of the autumn enlargement package” which will provide even fuller picture on Georgia’s readiness for the candidacy status.”

Varhelyi also recalled EU’s position and demarches regarding ex-president Saakashvili health condition and stressed that the EU position is very clear: “It is the legal  responsibility of Georgian authorities to fully guarantee Mikheil Saakashvili’s rights both as a detainee and as defendant in line with Georgia’s international commitments.” He added: “EU remains close friend and partner for Georgia and its people. This is crucial moment for the whole country to unite and work resolutely for the common goal of EU membership and European values.”

MEP Sandra Kalniete stressed that “the highly disturbing events in Georgia must not be viewed in isolation. Just as Russia wages war of aggression in Ukraine and tries to destabilize Moldova, the Kremlin is desperate to retain Georgia in its sphere of influence. I applaud the courage shown by the protesters in Georgia. Europe sees your bravery and will not turn its back on you.”

She also added that in spite of the striking down the bill, the fight does not end here.

She stressed that “the place of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia is firmly in the EU.” She called on Georgian people to continue pressing for critical reforms that will bring Georgia towards EU candidate status. She went on to say that “only the Georgian people can hold government accountable and can challenge the might of the oligarchs.”

MEP concluded by saying: “Windows of opportunity can only arrive once or twice in a generation and don’t stay open for long. I appeal to the Georgian people to not waste this window of opportunity.”

MEP and Rapporteur for Georgia Sven Mikser, in his address stressed that the attempt by the Georgian government to adopt the Foreign Agents’ law was just one example of the long list of problems in the areas of rule of law in the country and “those in power only paid lip service to the EU aspirations” of the Georgian people.

Petras Auštrevičius in his address congratulated people of Georgia with stopping the Russian style Foreign Agents’ law and reiterated appreciation and solidarity of the MEPs with Georgian civil society. She stressed that Georgian authorities must fulfil Georgian nation’s EU aspirations and “must fully implement 12 recommendations of European Commission, bearing in mind that health and life of the poisoned and imprisoned of Mikheil Saakashvili is an integral part of EU requirements.” He went on to say: “Europe will not open the door to any form of political revanchism.”

MEP Viola Von Cramon stated bluntly:All masks are finally off. The government of Georgia is determined to sabotage the country’s European path. Thankfully the people of Georgia are not taking it. There is no way back to Russian swamp, to curtailed freedom and autocracy. There is only one way forward to Georgia’s European future.”

She noted that those in the streets of Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi spoke on behalf of over 80% of Georgians. She said emphatically: “You cannot wash away people’s European identity with water cannons, burning the EU flag will not burn Europe from Georgian’s hearts.”

She added that violence is futile against those who fight for their freedom stressing that “people of Georgia deserve to be in the EU, even if their current government does not.”

Anna Fotyga in her speech stressed thatfull scale invasion of Ukraine means geopolitical shift in our neighborhood” adding that “Georgian people understand this very well”. She paid tribute to the courage of people protesting against the “appalling foreign agents law”. She also said that keeping the 3rd President of Georgia  Mikheil Saakashvili in prison “as Putin’s hostage”, means deteriorating future of Georgia” and expressed hope that Georgia government understands this.

Marina Kaluland in her address said she has two messages to Georgian people as the chair of south Caucasus Delegation: first, that Members of European Parliament know and respect the choice of closer European and Transatlantic integration, expressed by Georgian nation clearly and consistently, and “we support you and stand with you on your European path” and second: “we will never, I repeat never, drag you in any war. We remember 2008 war and human lives lost, we‘ll never recognize occupation of Georgia and will always support Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

She added: ”We wish Georgian people peace, security and prosperity. Our message to Georgian politicians is very clear: war in Ukraine opened window of opportunity for Georgia. Don’t waste it! Remember,  today Ukrainians are fighting and dying for the their future, but also for your future.” She concluded by saying that attacks by Georgian government of Ukraine and its President are “disappointing and unacceptable” and appealed to the Georgian government saying: “Window of opportunity will not stay open forever, do what your people expect of you.”

MEP Katalin Cseh said:We very strongly welcome this withdrawal. European Parliament has a very clear message to the pro-European forces in Georgia: We see you and we stand with you. And we admire your determination to join our European family.” She added: “The image of a protester in Tbilisi waving EU flag while facing the water cannons is such a powerful symbol, colleagues, it shows how much the European project means for people in accession countries. So we should work everyday to live up to this. And we should have much broader strategy to counter Russia’s influence. Because we cannot fight Putin without fighting Putinization of our neighborhood.”  

MEP Marketa Gregorova, expressed dissppointment saying that after four years of intensive work on getting Georgia close to EU she is “at loss”, and dismayed by attacks from the Georgian Government, which she advised:” Pick a side, or we will stop being a choice.”

Andrius Kubilius in his address said EU “knows very well how strongly Georgian people want to join the EU …but today Georgia has a problem and its name is Bidzina Ivanishvlli.” He mentioned Nika Gvaramia of Mtavari channel and Mikheil Saakashvili as being political prisoners. He also called Foreign Agents’ law a “deliberate political provocation of Georgian authorities against people of Georgia”. MEP addressed the rhetoric of PM of Georgia saying “Kremlin should envy such type of propaganda.” He also stressed that “despite that we shall continue to stand with Georgian people.”

MEP Reinhaadt Budikofer in his speech said thatGeorgians citizens know that so-called Georgian dream has turned into a Georgian nightmare.” He stressed that  Georgian government pays lip service at best to European values and to European path.

He also added: “We should not leave Georgian citizens alone in their fight for European perspective” and called to look beyond the measures that have been on the table: “Will we continue unabated with development  cooperation without conditionality? Will we refuse to consider sanctions. We shouldn’t. And we should fight for the freedom of Saakashvili.”

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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