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European Parliament holds debates on the crisis in Georgia

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, March 11
On Tuesday, debates were held on Georgia in the European Parliament. At the plenary session Vice-President of European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles presented a special report, which focused on the visit of European Council President Charles Michel to Georgia.

Borell stated during his speech that Georgia remains a key associated partner of the European Union, however, he remarked that the recent political situation in the country has been a cause of serious concerns due to increasing political polarization. Borrell believes that considering the risks of undermining Georgia’s democracy, it is important for all parties to come together to deescalate the situation and agree on common ground. The Vice-President stressed that the EU looks forward to seeing the Georgian parties’ progress through dialogues and stated that they would closely follow the process. The EU expects the Georgian government to provide inclusive leadership, which prioritizes the interest of the citizens, and believes that all political actors need to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric.

The VP Borrell touched upon the recent visit of European Council President Charles Michel in Georgia, where he met with officials. Borrell noted that Michel, in cooperation with him, mandated Christian Danielsson, the Head of the European Commission's Representation in Sweden, to engage in the EU-backed mediation effort in Georgia.

According to Borrell, the EU prioritizes the consolidation of democracy, including electoral reforms, political stability, and an inclusive parliamentary process. He stated that these elements, together with a fair, independent, and accountable judiciary, are the preconditions for Georgia to further deepen its partnership with the EU in line with the Association Agreement.

“No country can thrive in a situation of political crisis for long. The Georgian political actors owe it to the Georgian people to offer a stable political context in which the country could recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, to build back better, and reap the potential benefits of our Association Agreement to the fullest,” stated VP Borrell and added that EU would encourage all political actors in Georgia to commit fully to the dialogue.

Borrell affirmed the EU’s support towards Georgia’s reform efforts, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

He also talked about the support coming from the EU to Georgia and stated that the EU is the largest donor in Georgia and has been assisting the country is facing the coronavirus pandemic.

At the debates, MEP David McAllister stated that Georgia’s way out of the political crisis should include an ambitious electoral reform, the rule of law and judicial reform, as well as solving the problem of politicized justice, the distribution of power in parliament, and the establishment of a fact-finding commission.

According to MEP Anna Fotyga, Since June 2019, much bad news has been coming from Tbilisi, with only one exception which is the agreement of March the 8th reached between the government of Georgia and the opposition. “Bad news culminated in the period after elections and the recent storming of the opposition party headquarters and arbitrary detention of the leader,” said MEP Fotyga. She believes that Georgia’s partners should put the utmost effort to facilitate dialogue, which, according to her, will probably lead to new inclusive elections.

According to MEP Sven Mikser, those in power must maintain calm and do not act disproportionately or in a way that further escalates the situation. Mikser called on his colleagues to convince Georgian friends that they need to engage in a democratic parliamentary process and not sacrifice the legitimate aspirations of the Georgian people to the short-term political interests of any party.

MEP Viola von Cramon believes that politicians from 'both camps' are responsible for the mess created in the Georgian political field. “They put their egos above the country’s interests and chose polarization over cooperation,” she said. German MEP believes that new elections would be only an emergency fix and not a long-term solution and without a complete, new electoral system, the crisis will be faced again. “The reform of the judiciary and more parliamentary oversight for the opposition must be the political priority. Both harmful shadow actors, Saakashvili and Mr. Ivanishvili should stop any further interference,” stressed the MEP.

According to MEP Nicolae ?tefanu?a, Georgians can no longer situate themselves between real democracy and imitation democracy. “I hope that Georgia will find the point of balance, where political pluralism is reinforced and the polarization of the society is toned down. If Georgia wants European and [Euro]-Atlantic integration, it cannot slip down the claws of corruption” he stated.