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Georgia in EU’s ENP PA report

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, June 3
Georgia made progress in the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan priorities throughout 2010, the ENP AP country report says. EU’s Ambassador to Georgia Philip Dimitrov presented the report to journalists on Thursday.

The authors of the report have noted that progress has been seen in reforming of the justice system, improving the conduct of elections, increasing women’s rights, carrying out constitutional reform as well as reforms in trade and business related areas, regional development and substantially curbing administrative corruption. Entry into force of the new criminal procedure code has been named as one of the “major achievements” of 2010. “Georgian authorities worked intensively to ensure the new code was successfully implemented. Continuing these efforts and effectively implementing the legislation will be key to ensuring its long-term success,” the report reads.

However, the authors of the document have highlighted problematic fields as well, saying that “Georgia needs to accelerate its efforts to consolidate democracy, especially as regards political and media pluralism.” According to the report, corruption among high-ranking officials still remains as a problem, as well as the rights and integration of the minorities. “Other major challenges include freedom of association, labour rights, employment and social policies, poverty reduction and agricultural development,” the report reads “In the field of labour rights and core labour standards, ILO expressed concerns with the lack of compliance, by Georgia, with core labour conventions. If unaddressed, these concerns put at risk Georgia’s continuing inclusion in the EU’s General System of Preferences (GSP+) which allows Georgia to benefit from trade preferences from the EU,” it continues.

The report outlines the economic situation in Georgia following the “double shock” of a brief war with Russia in 2008 and the global economic crisis, saying that the Georgian economy showed “signs of recovery” in 2010. “In line with its commitments in the ENP AP and with the International Monetary Fund Stand-By agreement, the country reserved a prudent fiscal and monetary policy stance and made progress in increasing exchange rate flexibility,” the report reads, mentioning, however, that “limited recovery of Foreign Direct Investment inflows, meant Georgia’s external position remained vulnerable given the need to finance the large current account deficit.”

The document stresses on the lack of transparency in the media ownership and the difficulty to access to public information. According to the authors of the report, these issues continue to pose “serious problems” for the independent media in the country.

As for the situation in the penitentiary system, the document says that “inhuman and degrading” detention conditions, often caused by overcrowding in prisons, remain a “major area of concern.” The authors of the report have pointed to the “inadequate healthcare in prisons”. “Limited progress was noted in the improvement of material conditions in prisons and in police detention establishments, and in the provision of legal aid to persons in police custody,” the report reads. However, the authors of the report have noted, that amendments made to the Georgia’s Criminal Code represent a “positive step towards liberalisation of criminal policies in Georgia.”

In its report the EU has reiterated its “full support” to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and to “peaceful resolution of the existing conflicts.” “The EU Monitoring Mission, as the only agreed international presence on the ground, continued its efforts in support of a stabilisation of the security situation. However, was unable to carry out its mandate on the whole territory of Georgia given that it was prevented from getting access to breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The authors of the report have mentioned, that a State Strategy on Occupied Territories, worked out by the Georgian authorities “did not lead to a fundamental change of the situation.” The report also notes that Russia has yet to fulfil its commitments under the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement.