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Current Georgian government criticized by EPP members

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, February 15
Tbilisi is hosting representatives of the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly Political Committee during their two-day visit to Georgia. Meetings are planned for February 14-15th and might prove very important for Georgia's hopes of eventually joining the European Union. The EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly is a parliamentary forum that promotes political association and further economic integration between the European Union and its Eastern European Partners.

Regrettably, several members of the Parliamentary Assembly, especially from the European Peopleís Party (EPP), have expressed their concerns in regards to recent political events in the country.

The official page for the EPP Group in the European Parliament released some of the comments made by Vice-Chairman of the EPP Gunnar Hokmark and also a joint statement by the President of the EPP Wilfried Martens and Vice President and Chairman of the EPP Group in EURONEST Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. The comments were made before the delegation's visit to the country.

"The Georgian Dream coalition has started a nationwide political harassment campaign against President Saakashvili and his party members and supporters. But there is a need to understand that cohabitation and cooperation between the political majority and minority is a democratic standard that cannot be undermined. Bringing to justice all those who have physically assaulted opposition law-makers is a necessity. The recent developments undermine Georgia's credibility on the international scene and in the EU."Gunnar Hokmark said. He added that restoring constitutional order in Georgia is an urgent matter.

In their joint statement Wilfried Martens and Jacek Saryusz-Wolski expressed their shock at the acts of violence against UNM parliamentarians. "The terms for EU-Georgia dialogue are not being met anymore and the EU cannot compomise its values and standards." statement reads. The statement also reveals that "The EPP was disappointed with the results of the October 2012 parliamentary elections." However, the party welcomed the fact that the elections met democratic standards. EPP supports the integration process of the Eastern Partnership countries, but in relation with Georgia wants to be sure that the country shares the same values as the EU.

Hokmark reminded the Georgian government about European standards of democracy while speaking at a press conference held in Tbilisi on February 14th. He mentioned that the Georgian government needs to meet requirements for an open and democratic society. "I think the Georgian government respects the political standards of democracy and the rule of law. I hope Georgia will get closer to the EU. The government should fulfil requirements for an open and democratic society. The opposition and the government should respect each other." Hokmark said.

European MP Krzysztof Lisek also finds the level of human rights protection in Georgia to be concerning. He said in his comments in a TV interview that the aim of the visit is to monitor the existing situation in the country. Lisek sees Georgia as facing serious political problems. "There is a serious political problem. Close cooperation is impossible with the EU, if you donít share European values and principles. These principles are democracy and human rights. Thatís why we are asking the government and the majority to cooperate with the minority and the President." Lisek said.

One of the leaders of the United National Movement (UNM), MP David Bakradze, commented on the statements made by European colleagues and said that the Georgian government should accept the advice from EPP members. He added that the UNM is ready to help the government to work with the EPP and make sure that the process of Georgian integration with the EU is not hampered.

Speaker of Parliament and Georgian Dream member Davit Usupashvili responded that because the EPP is a coalition of various European political parties that the UNM is affiliated with he does not find the statements made by EPP members to be surprising.