EU association efforts: MEPs praise Georgia and criticise Moldova
- Moldova is captured by oligarchic interests
- No further EU support until after next year’s elections, if credible
- Georgia should continue with good reforms efforts
Moldova is backsliding on democratic standards and rule of law, while Georgia is on good reform track, said Foreign affairs MEPs on Tuesday.
Committee MEPs took stock of the implementation of the EU association agreements with Moldova and Georgia, which entered into force two years ago, highlighting areas that need additional efforts for countries to get closer to the EU.
The implementation of reforms to which Moldova has committed must be a top priority, underlines the resolution on Moldova. MEPs are concerned the country is backsliding in relations to democratic standards, rule of law, lack of fair and transparent elections as well as impartial judiciary, insufficient anti-corruption and anti-money laundering efforts. Still, they praise those leading the efforts, which should be pursued, to reform the banking sector following the 2014 bank fraud of USD 1 billion.
Moldova is captured by oligarchic interests with a concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a small group of people exerting their influence on parliament, the government, political parties, the state administration, the police, the judiciary and the media, the text says.
Foreign affairs MEPs urge the Moldovan authorities to address these concerns, reaffirming its position on halting EU financial support to Chisinau until after the February 2019 parliamentary elections, should they be conducted in line with internationally recognised standards and assessed by specialised international bodies, and until meaningful progress in democratic standards. In the meantime, this support should be relocated to mostly support Moldova’s civil society and independent media, they add.
“It is regretful that today we must speak of Moldova as a state, in which the basic elements of democracy and the rule of law are severely endangered by a handful of people. The implementation of key parts of the Association Agreement are lacking. I am only hopeful that this report will be a much needed wake-up call for the authorities in Chisinau. The future of EU-Moldova relations now very much depend on the how the next parliamentary elections are run. It is not about who wins, it’s about how they win”, said Parliaments’ rapporteur on Moldova Petras Auštrevičius (ALDE, LT).
MEPs on the Foreign affairs committee welcome Georgia’s sustained reform track, which makes it a key EU partner in the region. They note that the EU is now Georgia’s largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign direct investment.
MEPs call on the Georgian authorities to continue ensuring stability, further democratic reforms and economic and social improvements for Georgians. High-level corruption, full independence of the judiciary and the depoliticization of media content remain key areas of concern, they stress.
The resolution also recalls with regret that after ten years, Russia still continues its illegal occupation of Georgian territories. MEPs reiterate their unequivocal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and emphasised the importance of proactive communication to Georgian citizens about the tangible benefits and goals of the Eastern Partnership.
Lead MEP on Georgia Andrejs Mamikins (S&D, LV) said: “Georgia has a clear aspiration to become a part of the European family and the cross-party consensus on this European agenda is very important. The implementation of the Association Agreement including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area is going well. We also witness positive dynamics in the visa-free regime and the EU-Georgia security dialogue amongst others.
However, Georgia still has a number of issues to focus on including labour rights, economic emigration, high-level corruption, abuse by law enforcement officials, gender equality, and children’s rights. The EU, including the European Parliament, will maintain its engagement and support to Georgia on its ambitious reform path.”
The resolution on Moldova was approved by 31 vote to 5, with 17 abstentions. The resolution on Georgia was approved by 43 votes to 7, with 1 abstention. The full House is to vote on them at the November II plenary session in Brussels.
Moldova and Georgia signed association agreements with the European Union on 27 June 2014 boosting their economic and political ties. They entered into force on 1 July 2016.