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Tracking Georgia’s Reforms: Last Update on Implementation of 12 EU Priorities

On September 15, nine Georgian civil society organizations, led by the Open Society Georgia Foundation, assessed implementation by Georgia of the 12 EU conditions for EU candidate status. The report says that as of now, one priority is fully fulfilled (proactive consideration of ECHR judgments), two priorities are mostly fulfilled (independent ombudsman and institutional independence of the PD office and gender equality and violence against women), seven are partially fulfilled (electoral and institutional reforms, independent judiciary, anti-corruption measures, media environment, protection of human rights of vulnerable groups, involvement of CSOs in the decision-making process, and fight against organized crime) and two priorities (de-oligarchization and political de-polarization) are yet to be fulfilled.

The mentioned nine CSOs regularly assess Georgia’s progress. Notably, this is the last such report before the European Commission will assess the implementation of the conditions next month.

The sixth edition of their assessment document – EU Candidacy Check – covers the period from July 31 to September 15 and assesses the current state of play and the steps to be taken in the future by the authorities to secure the EU candidacy status.

According to the report, the changes since the last assessment (on August 1, 2023) can be seen mainly in the priorities related to the independence of the Ombudsman institution (positive change) and the fight against organized crime (negative change). There have also been some small positive improvements in other priorities such as media, electoral and institutional reforms, anti-corruption measures and de-oligarchization.

Negative change

The sixth report observes a deterioration in the priority of Fight Against Organized crime, which had previously been assessed as mostly fulfilled but has now regressed to a partially fulfilled status. This regression is attributed to several factors, including the absence of public access to the minutes of working group meetings; a lack of focus by the Defense and Security Committee working group on issues concerning the accountability and supervision of law enforcement agencies; the absence of authority for the parliamentary opposition to summon the head of the State Security Service and the Prosecutor General to committee sessions; certain unimplemented recommendations from MONEYVAL; and non-compliance with regulatory obligations, as the Ministers of Internal Affairs and of Defense of Georgia consistently fail to attend meetings of the Defense and Security Committee.

Positive change

The report highlights that the Independent Ombudsman and the Institutional Independence of the Public Defender’s Office priority has moved up to the most fulfilled priority category. Nevertheless, organizations point out that while the Public Defender’s Office demonstrates effective performance, there remains a deficiency in achieving a high level of independence and swift, efficient responses to human rights violations.

Additionally noted developments

In the Media priority, the report highlights that as of August 4, 2023, Davit Kezerashvili no longer holds ownership of the controlling stake in the “Formula” TV company. The National Agency of Public Registry granted Davit Kezerashvili’s request, resulting in the transfer of 25 percent of the 51 percent share to the employees’ union known as AAP “Freedom for Formula.”

The report says there has been another development in the realm of Anti-corruption Measures priority pointing that starting from September 1, 2023, the anti-corruption bureau’s mandate has been expanded to include monitoring authority over party financing.

In the De-oligarchization priority, the report notes a new development related to the elaboration of the De-oligarchization Action Plan, which government claims to adopt a systemic approach. However, the text of the document remains undisclosed. The report reiterates its call for the government to take effective measures to fulfill this priority.

The document comprises the assessments of the following organizations: Open Society Georgia Foundation, Democracy Research Institute, Georgian Court Watch, Georgian Democracy Initiative, Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, Governance Monitoring Center, Georgia’s Reforms Associates, Partnership for Human Rights, and Sapari.

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