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How Georgia is fulfilling its obligations

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Monday, March 29
On March 26, a shadow report entitled “European Neighbourhood Policy: Implementation of the Objectives of the EU-Georgia Action Plan” was presented at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. As part of the presentation Open Society Georgia Foundation experts outlined the results of their monitoring of Georgia's fulfillment of the three priority directions of the ENP AP.

Tamar Pataraia, Revaz Sakevarishvili and Nino Danelia monitored the fulfillment of three priority directions of the ENP AP, namely security, the economy and the media. Georgia's performance in other fields, like rule of law and good governance, sustainable development, environment protection and food safety is being monitored by other organisations. Their conclusions are outlined in three chapters of the report: Promoting the Institutional Environment for the Operation of an Independent Media within the Scope of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan; Implementation of Georgia's Economic Obligations in the Framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan and Legislation and Practices; Promotion of Democratic Institutions, Principles of Good Governance and Democratic Control in the Security Sector as Defined by the ENP Action Plan for Georgia.

Nino Danelia, who looked at media issues, stated that the situation in the media sector has worsened in recent years. According to Freedom House, between 2003 and 2008 the quality of media freedom in Georgia declined. In 2003 Georgia had a score of 54 points in this ranking but in 2008 its score was 60 points, the higher score meaning it had less freedom. The Georgian media is still classified as partially free on the basis of this score, but one extra point would put it in the not free category.

“It should be mentioned that the situation in the media sector has worsened. The most problematic issue is the transparency of media ownership, as the media market is not protected from state interference, especially when it comes to the distribution of commercials among TV companies, and editorial independence in the media remains impossible”, Danelia noted.

Revaz Sakevarishvili presented very interesting findings about Georgia's economic development, stating that Georgia’s exports to the EU are very small and further diversification of these is needed. In spite of the fact that EU’s GSP+ gives certain advantages to Georgia, only a few companies and products use these. Sakevarishvili said that in January-November 2009 Georgia’s foreign trade turnover with the EU countries was 1.388 billion USD, 28.1% less than in previous years.

“The pace of introduction of European standards has been slow. At the same time, Asian liberal economic models have also proved acceptable for the Government, which raises an ambiguity regarding development trends, while antimonopoly legislation and institutions still remain a problematic issue,” he said.

Tamar Pataraia monitored the democratisation of the security system. “The control tools of Parliament are weak and unstable and the protection of the rights of soldiers serving in the Georgian Army has not been given enough attention so far”, she said at the presentation.

“Even though currently attention is focused on the Eastern Partnership Programme, partly because it is more recent, it cannot be detached and considered separately from the ENP. Our country has experienced both ups and downs regarding the latter, therefore any progress or regression the country may see in Eastern Partnership Programme implementation will remind us of the lessons we have learned from the ENP. This is why it was important to the OSGF in 2009 to draw the attention of national and international civil society and national and European governments to ENP implementation,” Keti Khutsishvili, Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation, said at the conference.

The EU-Georgia ENP AP was launched in November 2006. The strategic goals of cooperation between the EU and Georgia were defined in the document. Some representatives of the Georgian civil sector regularly keep track of the implementation of the ENP AP.