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The Daily Beat: 16 May

The EU regrets Georgia’s decision to resume flights with Russia following Putin’s lift of the air travel ban, EU foreign and security affairs spokesperson Peter Stano said. He reiterated EU concerns over Georgia’s decision, calling it regrettable in terms of Georgia’s non-compliance with the EU foreign policy approaches as stipulated by the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. Peter Stano also noted that Georgia’s alignment with the EU’s foreign and security policy decisions dropped from 44% last year to 31%.    

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For comparison with other candidates/potential candidates for EU membership from the Balkans: North Macedonia’s rate of alignment with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy/ CFSP statements in 2022 was 100%, Montenegro’s 100%, Albania’s 100% and Bosnia and Herzegovina has made some progress in improving its alignment with EU foreign policy statements and restrictive measures, reaching 81% by the end of August 2022. Serbia’s alignment rate with the EU Common Foreign and Policy/ CFSP statements in 2022 was 48%.

Kyiv also slammed Georgia’s welcoming stance on resuming air links between Russia and Georgia. “The world isolates Russia to force it to end the war, but Georgia welcomes Russian airlines and sends its own to Moscow. While Russia’s occupation of 20% of Georgia’s territory remains unpunished, Kremlin is delighted with such a result,” a spokesperson of the Ukrainian foreign ministry Oleg Nikolenko tweeted in Georgian.

Georgian Airways” – the country’s flagship – applied for and obtained the necessary license to conduct flights to Russia. Georgian aviation authorities say “Georgian Airways” will start operating Tbilisi-Moscow-Tbilisi flights from 20 May, seven days a week. This is the second company obtaining the licence, following the Russian “Azimut Airlines.”

In response to public outcry, mostly in social media and through picketing at its offices, “Georgian Airwaysissued a collective statement of workers, calling to “keep dirty hands away” from the company, adding that those involved in discrediting the company are doing this to justify receiving foreign grants and appease foreign patrons.   

Representatives of critical media and civic society called on the president to pardon the manager of the opposition TV outlet, Nika Gvaramia, as one year has waned since his arrest. Gvramia’s arrest over the embezzlement charges in 2022 sparked continued international and local criticism and allegedly served as one of the underlying reasons for not granting the country the EU candidate status last summer. British Ambassador Mark Clayton also reacted to Gvaramia’s imprisonment anniversary, saying that a “government accountable to diverse media and a free and fair court are the cornerstones of a democratic state.

On the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHO), international organizations and embassies issued a joint statement, welcoming the increase in public support for the protection of minority rights and the efforts by state institutions and SCOs in ensuring full protection of human rights. Apart from some positive trends, signatories of the statement also expressed concern over the “stalled progress” and indicated to lack of measures to strengthen the protection and inclusion of LGBTQI+ persons. The joint statement outlines stigmatization, discriminatory language, and hate speech by some public officials, calling upon the authorities and other actors to speak out against hate and violence.


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