Moldova must take urgent action and Georgia should continue efforts, say MEPs
- Moldova is trapped by oligarchic interests
- No further EU support until after next year’s national elections, if credible
- Georgia is on a good reform track and efforts should continue
On Wednesday, MEPs positively acknowledged Georgia’s reform track, while criticising Moldova for backsliding on democratic standards and rule of law.
Parliament adopted two resolutions on Georgia and Moldova, taking stock of the implementation of the EU association agreements with the two countries.
Implementing the reforms to which Moldova has committed must be a top priority, underlines the resolution on Moldova. Although MEPs note some achievements in the fields of trade, energy, banking sector reform, public administration and public financial management, they are particularly concerned about its levels of corruption, lack of independent judiciary and backsliding on democratic standards.
Moldova is trapped by oligarchic interests, with 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.
MEPs urge the Moldovan authorities to address these concerns, reaffirming that EU financial support to Moldova should only be provided after the parliamentary elections in the country scheduled for February 2019 and on condition that they are conducted in line with internationally recognised standards and assessed by specialised international bodies. Until meaningful progress in democratic standards take place, the payment of all budget support programmes should be reallocated to mostly support Moldova’s civil society and independent media, they add.
“The European Parliament remains seriously concerned about shrinking space for democracy and the rule of law in Moldova. At the same time, Moldova is of particular importance for the EU. I therefore continue to believe in open and democracy-based dialogue with the authorities in Chisinau aimed at full implementation of these key elements of the Association Agreement. This is the one and only way towards Europeanisation of Moldova. I reiterate that the future of EU-Moldova relations now very much depend on 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 warmly welcome Georgia’s sustained reform track and progress made in implementing the EU association agreement. They note that the EU is now Georgia’s largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign direct investment.
Therefore, MEPs call on the Georgian authorities to continue ensuring stability, further democratic reforms, as well as economic and social improvements for Georgians, who are affected by poverty, unemployment and economic emigration. High-level corruption, full independence of the judiciary, the depoliticisation of media content, labour and human rights and environmental protection also remain areas of concern, MEPs 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 emphasise the importance of proactive communication to Georgian citizens about the tangible benefits and goals of the Eastern Partnership.
Regarding the 2018 presidential elections in Georgia, MEPs welcome their competitive nature and the absence of cases of violence. They invite the authorities and political parties to address the issues of concern, as highlighted by the International Election Observation Mission, notably the misuse of state resources, excessively high caps in campaign financing and the targeting of independent civil society organisations.
Lead MEP on Georgia Andrejs Mamikins (S&D, LV) said: “Georgia is positively changing its political identity since the Association Agreement was signed in 2014. Notwithstanding the persistent challenges related to corruption and labour rights, Georgia has made clear steps towards the European model of governance, and the structural reform of the ministries promises good results. I am also glad to see that human rights made it to the top of the political agenda. The EU, including the European Parliament, will maintain its engagement with and support to Georgia on its ambitious reform path”.
The resolution on Moldova was adopted by 396 vote to 76, with 186 abstentions, while the resolution on Georgia was approved by 528 votes to 97, with 34 abstentions.
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.