Brussels, 09/03/2021 – 20:53
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Ms President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Georgia remains a key associated partner of the European Union. We have with Georgia an ambitious Association Agreement that has offered closer political association and economic integration with the European Union.
However, unhappily, the political situation in the country has been a cause of serious concerns over recent months due to an increasing political polarisation. This situation risks undermining Georgia’s democracy. I repeat our strong view that it is now important for all parties to step up efforts to de-escalate the situation and come together to identify and agree on common ground.
The President of the European Council [Charles Michel] has just visited Georgia recently and had the opportunity to meet the President [of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili], the Prime Minister [of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili] and the leaders of the main opposition parties. During this visit, he was engaged in discussions with these political parties, and after coming back, in cooperation with me as High Representative, he has announced, last evening, a mandate to a European Union civil servant, Mr Christian Danielsson, to engage in these EU-backed mediation efforts.
We look forward to seeing the Georgian parties’ progress with this urgent dialogue. We will follow closely this process. The Head of the European Union Delegation in Georgia [Mr Carl Hartzell] will also facilitate these mediation efforts.
All sides need to contribute to agreeing to a compromise. We expect the government to provide inclusive leadership, putting the interests of the Georgian people first. And all actors need to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric.
In terms of the elements for progress, the European Union sees as priorities the consolidation of democracy, including electoral reforms, political stability and an inclusive parliamentary process.
A fair, independent, yet accountable judiciary is also of paramount importance. These are prerequisites for Georgia to further deepen its partnership with the European Union in line with the Association Agreement.
We will have an opportunity to assess progress soon when we will meet in the Association Council with the Georgian Prime Minister [Irakli Garibashvili] on the 16th of March. This will be an important date and I sincerely hope that we can report on progress then.
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.
Along with President [of the European Council, Charles] Michel, we will encourage all political actors in Georgia to commit fully to the dialogue in a constructive spirit and with a view to pursue mutually agreeable outcomes in the interest of a stable, democratic and reform-oriented Georgia able to successfully advance on its pro-European path.
We also support Georgia’s reform efforts, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country within its internationally recognised borders and with peaceful conflict resolution.
The work of the European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia [Mr Toivo Klaar] and the work of the European Union Monitoring Mission(link is external) demonstrate this strong commitment.
I also value the role of the European Parliament as a support for democracy in Georgia, and look forward to closely cooperating on such opportunities.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-202838
Thank you President,
Well, there are many things that have been said, but I would like to answer a mention from [Member of the European Parliament, Ms] Clare Daly that, if I understood well, mentioned the case of Mr Nika Melia and suggested that there was silence on the side of the European Union. Let me precisely say that there was no silence.
On the 18th of February, my spokesperson issued a statement following the Tbilisi City Court’s decision of the 17th February, one day before, on the pre-trial detention of Mr Melia and the resignation of the Prime Minister [Giorgi] Gakharia. And, in this statement, we urged both the authorities and the opposition in Georgia to act with restraint and responsibility to avoid further escalation, making specific reference to the case of Mr Melia. In order to say the things the way they were, I think this explanation is interesting and useful.
And then, there is the whole debate about the situation in Georgia. All of you have been mentioning it. I can only explain once again which is our position and what can we expect in order to try to solve this difficult situation. We are helping a lot Georgia. We are the largest donor in Georgia. We are allocating Georgia an important support to face the Coronavirus pandemic.
And, we hope that with the efforts of mediation, that the President [of the European Council] Charles Michel has launched, we will be more ready to help to solve the issues involved in the search for a political agreement. You know, you have been talking about it, the main issues standing in the political stalemate are the issue of electoral reform, justice reform, perception of a politicised justice, power sharing in Parliament and – and it is the most difficult issue – the question of an early new election or a possible plebiscite. All these issues will have to be dealt [with] during the efforts that we are going to develop with the nomination of this mediator. And, I hope that this will be useful to solve the political crisis in Georgia.
Link to the video : https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-203179