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Onsdagen den 4 juli 2012 - Strasbourg Reviderad upplaga

14. Situationen i Georgien (debatt)
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  Πρόεδρος. - Το επόμενο σημείο στην ημερήσια διάταξη είναι η δήλωση της Αντιπροέδρου της Επιτροπής/Ύπατης Εκπροσώπου της Ένωσης για θέματα Εξωτερικής Πολιτικής και Πολιτικής Ασφαλείας σχετικά με την κατάσταση στη Γεωργία.

 
  
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  Andreas Mavroyiannis, President-in-Office of the Council, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. − Mr President, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak at the opening of this debate on behalf of the High Representative, Vice-President Ashton.

This House, in its resolution of 17 November last year, gave strong support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and to the process of political association and economic integration with the European Union. It also recognised the importance of the Geneva Process and gave its backing to the work of the European Union’s special representative for the South Caucasus and to the EU monitoring mission. These were important signals of commitment to Georgia and to the region.

Members of this House have also been in the vanguard of supporting the deepening of human rights and democracy in Georgia. At the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly held in Baku in April a resolution was passed underlining the indispensable role of independent civil society in strengthening democracy and stressing the importance in this context of freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, including in the press and the media.

In addition, I am aware that a number of honourable Members have submitted parliamentary questions concerning the treatment of the political opposition, respect for human rights, labour relations and other related issues. These issues are all extremely relevant as the EU looks at Georgia preparing for elections in the autumn, and as we support Georgia’s reform drive built on the basis of consensus.

President Van Rompuy is in Georgia today. His visit is an opportunity to demonstrate the top-level commitment of the European Union to the deepening of our relations with Georgia and to the peaceful development of the South Caucasus region as a whole. I will not anticipate President Van Rompuy’s messages to Georgia here, but I would like to signal before the debate is open a number of critical issues for us at this time.

We are making good progress with our Association Agreement and with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area negotiations. We will also soon begin concrete work on a visa liberalisation action plan preparing for mobility and stronger people-to-people contacts. All this is very positive news, but it is essential that Georgia makes every effort already to live within the spirit of association. We will provide Georgia with every possible support in meeting this objective, bearing in mind its great potential to benefit from the ‘more for more’ principle enshrined in the European Neighbourhood Policy.

In this context, President Barroso and Commissioner Füle as well as, obviously, High Representative/Vice-President Ashton, have emphasised to President Saakashvili in their recent meetings in Brussels the need to ensure fair political competition and the legitimacy of elections. Parliamentary elections in October must meet international democratic standards. Public trust in the election process will be crucial. Pluralistic elections require a strong, credible and serious opposition that takes part in the election process in a way that respects the constitution and the law.

We have noted with concern the perception that the government is trying to hinder the participation of opposition leader Ivanishvili, that resources are being deployed against him and that laws on party finance and vote-buying are being applied in a one-sided way. We must insist that the laws are correctly and transparently applied to leave no possible doubt that due process has been followed.

On the other hand, there is also a perception that Mr Ivanishvili is using his unequalled financial assets for electoral gain and this is a legitimate concern. Again we must insist that there is a level playing field for democratic competition and that votes cannot be bought.

We have focused in particular on equal access to media outlets. It is well established that the two main pro-government channels have enjoyed wider penetration than more critical channels, so we are encouraged by the recent decision by Parliament to enforce the so-called ‘must-carry/must-offer’ rules in the pre-election period and by the President’s strong statements on this issue, though we will wish to discuss further the enforcement of these rules.

Finally, I should of course underline that the EU remains committed to conflict resolution efforts in Georgia through strong support to Georgia’s territorial integrity, through our contribution to security and stability by the deployment of the EU monitoring mission, and through our leading role as co-chairs in the Geneva international discussions.

The conflict over Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains high on our agenda and we will continue to spare no effort to help find solutions. This commitment was strongly reflected in the Council conclusions of 27 February 2012.

I very much look forward to hearing the views of honourable Members on this very important issue.

 
  
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  Krzysztof Lisek, w imieniu grupy PPE. – Panie Przewodniczący! Szanowny Panie Ministrze! Miałem przyjemność przez ostatnie półtora roku pracować nad sprawozdaniem Parlamentu Europejskiego dotyczącym umowy stowarzyszeniowej Unia Europejska – Gruzja. Odwiedziłem Gruzję kilka razy, odbyłem kilkadziesiąt spotkań zarówno z przedstawicielami rządu, jak i partii opozycyjnych, z rzecznikiem praw obywatelskich, z przedstawicielami mediów, z przedstawicielami organizacji pozarządowych, i to zarówno takich, które blisko współpracują z rządem, jak i takich, które blisko współpracują z obecną opozycją – i to zarówno tą parlamentarną, jak i pozaparlamentarną. Pozwolę więc sobie przedstawić mój punkt widzenia, ale przypominając Państwu na początek dosłownie dwa paragrafy z naszej listopadowej rezolucji, rezolucji zaakceptowanej przez ponad 90% Parlamentu Europejskiego. W punkcie M preambuły piszemy: „należy z zadowoleniem przyjąć znaczny postęp, jakiego dokonała Gruzja w zakresie reform demokratycznych, w tym w odniesieniu do wzmacniania instytucji demokratycznych, zwłaszcza biura rzecznika praw obywatelskich, walki z korupcją, reformy systemu sądownictwa, a także reform gospodarczych i liberalizacji; należy pogratulować Gruzji zmniejszenia ogólnego wskaźnika przestępczości” i w punkcie O preambuły zaraz po tym piszemy: „oczywiście należy wezwać rząd gruziński do większego zaangażowania w konstruktywny dialog polityczny z siłami opozycji oraz do dalszego kształtowania demokratycznych warunków dla wolności słowa, a szczególnie dostępu wszystkich grup politycznych do mediów publicznych”.

Myślę, że dzisiaj wszyscy podpisalibyśmy się również pod tego typu stwierdzeniami. Gruzja jest chwalona – nie tylko przez nas polityków, ale i przez organizacje pozarządowe, takie jak Transparency International – właśnie za walkę z korupcją i za budowanie systemu demokratycznego. Ostatnie wybory, które odbyły się w Gruzji, czyli wybory samorządowe, miały bardzo dobrą opinię wszystkich obserwatorów, nawet opozycja stwierdziła, że nie było wielkich napięć i przebiegały one według międzynarodowych standardów.

Dzisiaj wracamy do tej dyskusji. Pytanie, co się stało, że musimy wrócić do dyskusji o Gruzji? Otóż moim zdaniem stała się jedna rzecz, o której był łaskaw przed chwilą powiedzieć pan minister. Otóż mamy, można powiedzieć, nowy podmiot, a właściwie nowego lidera opozycji w Gruzji, człowieka, który dysponuje miliardami dolarów, dysponuje budżetem i pieniędzmi większymi niż budżet państwa gruzińskiego. I niestety te środki nie są wykorzystywane w prawidłowy sposób.

Mogę powiedzieć o moim doświadczeniu z ostatnich miesięcy, ale myślę, że większość z nas ma to samo doświadczenie. Jesteśmy bombardowani od kilku miesięcy, kilka razy w tygodniu czymś, co się nazywa Georgia Media Tracker, czyli takim zestawem informacji, które pokazują, że prezydent Saakaszwili jest potworem i wszystko, co robi rządząca partia w Gruzji, to są rzeczy nieprawidłowe, niedopuszczalne itd., itp. Pozwoliłem sobie zbadać tę sytuację i sprawdzić, dlaczego tak się dzieje. Otóż okazuje się, że pan Iwaniszwili wynajął 18 amerykańskich, brytyjskich, niemieckich, francuskich firm lobbingowych, które pracują na jego rzecz. Myślę, że trzeba podkreślić jedną rzecz na podstawie naszych doświadczeń demokratycznych – istnienie i funkcjonowanie oligarchów w polityce nie kończy się dobrze. I to chciałbym zadedykować opozycji w Gruzji.

 
  
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  Libor Rouček, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, as Mr Mavroyiannis has already mentioned, today President Van Rompuy is in Georgia. Last week Commissioner Füle was in Georgia – so it just shows the great importance we accord to that country and to that region.

It is our wish, and it is also the wish of the Social Democrats, that Georgia is successful: that Georgia is successful in political and economic reforms; that Georgia is successful in preserving its territorial integrity; and of course that Georgia is successful in negotiations as far as the EU-Georgia Association Agreement is concerned; and also that we can make speedy progress in the dialogue on visa liberalisation – of course with a view to ending the visa requirement for Georgia.

So that is very positive, and we also acknowledge the reforms that have been made in the past few months and years in Georgia. However, as has already been said, there will soon be elections – in October the parliamentary elections, and then in 2013 the presidential elections, and we can see and feel that the political tension in Georgia is rising.

So I would like to say what our Georgian friends need – both in the government camp and in opposition – to calm down the situation. Georgia needs free and fair elections, Georgia needs to create free and fair pre-election conditions, so that all political groups, all political parties, including the opposition coalition, have free access to the media.

These elections will be very crucial for Georgia to preserve the fairness and openness of the elections, and of course they will be very crucial for progress in the negotiations on the Association Agreement and visa liberalisation. So on behalf of the Social Democratic Group I wish our Georgian friends success in this endeavour.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai, în numele grupului ALDE. – În numele grupului ALDE, vreau să declar că noi susţinem şi întotdeauna am susţinut o Georgie democrată, o Georgie prosperă, o Georgie care, alături de noi, să realizeze standardele europene. Eu nu cred că dezbaterea de astăzi este o dezbatere între stânga şi dreapta, între opoziţie şi putere. Atunci când eşti la putere nu trebuie să te laşi îngrijorat de situaţia opoziţiei - şi constat că Preşedintele Saakashvili este mai mult decât îngrijorat de faptul că are pentru prima oară de-a face în Georgia cu o opoziţie unită, o opoziţie puternică.

Sigur, am ascultat numeroase alegaţii, dintr-o parte sau din alta. Nu ştiu câte din aceste alegaţii sunt dovedite, însă aş vrea să precizez în numele grupului meu că democraţia nu înseamnă un război cu antenele satelit, democraţia nu înseamnă un război cu mijloacele de informare în masă. Este foarte bine că există mai multe posturi de televiziune care au puncte de vedere diferite, pentru că, ştim foarte bine, nu numai în spaţiul estic european, dar şi în acel spaţiu, această tentaţie a monopolizării adevărului absolut este una foarte periculoasă, care poate genera derapaje democratice.

Cred că argumentul că în acest moment opoziţia este condusă de o persoană foarte bogată nu este deloc un argument care să facă onoare unei abordări democratice a statului de drept. Bogăţia sau sărăcia în sine nu sunt, stimaţi colegi, o virtute. Nu pot constitui prin ele însele o situaţie de îndoială cu privire la probitatea celor care sunt în astfel de situaţii.

Cred că trebuie să aşteptăm de la Georgia o dezbatere de idei, o dezbatere de programe,o dezbatere de viziuni - şi nu o dezbatere colaterală, lansată de umorile unei părţi sau alteia. Cred că, aşa cum Comisarul Füle sublinia, această tensiune care pluteşte în aer în ceea ce priveşte Georgia poate fi foarte periculoasă în perspectivă. Iar guvernul care conduce în momentul de faţă prin partidul de guvernământ trebuie să asigure că aceste alegeri să se desfăşoare în deplină conformitate cu standardele europene, cu standarde democratice, pentru că numai în acest mod Georgia are garanţia unui viitor liber.

 
  
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  Ulrike Lunacek, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I think the debate we are having here shows exactly why we need one.

We have had many visitors here in the last few days from various levels of Georgian society – government, opposition, the new united opposition that is going to run – and we are hearing lots of different things. I think it is not for us to come down on one side. It is for us to define what we think is necessary for a democratic modern country to do.

What we are really concerned about and what I am concerned about – and what our debate should be about – is to warn Georgians, be it government, opposition or citizens, that a war of words and non-transparent conditions for elections is something that is harming, or could harm, the image of Georgia, not just in this Parliament but in Europe and in Georgia itself.

A statement by the National Democratic Institute says that it is ‘concerned about growing political polarization in the country and a dearth of civil discourse among political leaders’. Therefore, what I think we should do is make it very clear that a war of words is not helpful, that there is a need for transparency on campaign financing and on party financing for everyone, whether government or opposition.

I personally do not like oligarchs in politics – how much money you have should not be the criterion for whether or not you should be elected. It is about visions as the previous speaker has said. It is about improving and having the political will to improve human rights, the economic situation and democracy in the country.

There has been one positive development, and that was an amendment to media laws prescribing that every cable network has to transmit all TV stations in the pre-election period. I think that was a very positive thing.

One thing I am really concerned about is the situation of the over-crowded prisons in the country. Yes, the crime rate has been reduced. However, two political activists were recently sentenced to respectively 35 and 45 days imprisonment for petty hooliganism. This is something, especially in a pre-election period, that should not happen.

I call again on the authorities to ask the government and the opposition, everybody who wants to run, to calm down and ensure transparency for the elections. Hopefully we will have free and fair elections in a democratic country.

 
  
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  Tomasz Piotr Poręba, w imieniu grupy ECR. – Panie Przewodniczący! Długo zastanawiałem się nad tym, dlaczego dzisiaj jest organizowana ta debata w Parlamencie Europejskim. Przecież niedawno przyjmowaliśmy tutaj dobre sprawozdanie posła Liska, w którym chwaliliśmy determinację i konsekwencję we wdrażaniu demokratycznych standardów w Gruzji, i zastanawiam się, co się stało od tego czasu. W moim przekonaniu nic się nie stało, wręcz przeciwnie władze gruzińskie nadal reformują kraj, wprowadzają demokratyczne standardy, zreformowały prawo medialne, prawo wyborcze. W rankingu „doing business” Gruzja zajmuje wysokie pozycje, jeżeli chodzi o otwartość na biznes i o walkę z korupcją.

Zastanówmy się wszyscy, po co dzisiaj organizujemy tą debatę. Powinniśmy raczej pomagać Gruzji, wspierać ją, popierać władze gruzińskie w tym co robią we własnym kraju, jeżeli chodzi o zbliżanie z Unią Europejską, dlatego, że my takiej właśnie Gruzji potrzebujemy jako Unia Europejska. Jednocześnie przyjrzyjmy się zachowaniu opozycji, zastanówmy się, czy w interesie opozycji jest dumna suwerenna Gruzja, czy jednak kraj, który będzie w orbicie wpływów rosyjskich.

 
  
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  Elmar Brok (PPE). - Herr Präsident! Ich glaube, dass es notwendig ist, in der Östlichen Nachbarschaftspolitik all diesen Ländern zu helfen, damit die entsprechenden Regeln eingehalten werden für Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit, faire Wahlen usw. Ich glaube, dass wir das im Rahmen unserer Nachbarschaftspolitik – der Hilfe, die wir geben können –, aber auch in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Europarat und der OSZE gemeinsam machen müssen. Deswegen begrüße ich, dass die georgische Regierung dazu eingeladen hat, so viele Wahlbeobachter so lange wie möglich zu schicken, damit hier wirklich überprüft wird, ob die Verfahren eingehalten werden.

Ich finde, das ist eine relativ gute Entwicklung. Da ist man vielleicht als Hooligan 45 Tage im Gefängnis, in der Ukraine sitzt man sieben Jahre im Gefängnis, das mag noch einen kleinen Unterschied deutlich machen. Aber wir müssen sehen, dass Versammlungsfreiheit gewährleistet sein muss, dass Wahlen gewährleistet sein müssen, dass freie Medien erlaubt sein müssen. Wenn ich sehe, dass wir eine Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Fernsehanstalten dort haben und es möglich war, am 29. Juni ein Carry-all-Recht zu beschließen, dann haben wir eine bessere Situation als in den meisten Ländern und eine größere Differenzierung als in manchen europäischen Ländern und Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union.

Wenn ich allerdings sehe, dass mit den Blusen der Partei des reichen Iwanischwili Fernsehapparate verteilt werden – im Sinne einer Parteienfinanzierung, Bruch aller Regeln von Parteienfinanzierung, Intransparenz von privatem Geld, das da hineinfließt, von jemandem, der 6 Milliarden Euro in Russland verdient hat –, dann werde ich ein bisschen misstrauisch und frage mich, ob nicht nach beiden Seiten überprüft werden muss, ob die Vorschriften alle eingehalten werden. Wenn ich sehe und Beweise da sind, dass Stimmen gekauft werden, wenn ich sehe, dass offensichtlich die Opposition in diesem Wahlkampf 20 mal so viel Geld zur Verfügung hat wie die Regierungspartei, dann scheint es mir notwendig zu sein, hier eine wirkliche Überprüfung durchzuführen, die auch die Opposition mit einbezieht, wenn wir zu einer fairen Beurteilung kommen wollen.

Ich glaube nicht, dass der Einsatz von 18 Consultancies zumeist amerikanischer Art darüber entscheiden sollten, wie wir über die Europäische Nachbarschaftspolitik entscheiden.

 
  
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  Kristian Vigenin (S&D). - Mr President, I do not think that such debates show any kind of mistrust to any country. I think this debate is necessary.

Nobody can deny the fact that Georgia was making good progress in many areas. It was an encouraging and exemplary development. Georgia’s Members of Parliament play a very active and constructive role in the work of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly that I have the honour to chair. But I have stated on many occasions that the real test for the eastern partners of the European Union are the elections. They show how stable and sustainable the democracy is and they show the maturity of the political system.

I ask my colleagues not to exaggerate, but also not to downplay, the recent developments in Georgia. My impression is that a political war is under way and both sides are making full use of the weapons that they possess. On one side, that of the ruling parties, they have the administrative and legal resources, while on the other side they have financial resources.

If you listen to the explanations from both sides on the situation of Georgia you would think that it is about two completely different countries. This already signals a problem. This situation has to stop and the political process should be brought back to normal.

I ask the Council and the Commission to use all their powers to help Georgia. There are different means available and possible. You know them best; just use them now. If you want to help Georgia in holding free and fair elections, the time is now and not on the day of the elections.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR). - Panie Przewodniczący! W obliczu konfrontacyjnej polityki Kremla względem Tbilisi nasze zaangażowanie jest niezbędne, aby utrzymać Gruzję na drodze transformacji nakierowanej na rozwój gospodarczy i pokojowe współistnienie. Doceniamy pogłębiające demokratyzację działania władz, w tym szczególnie konstytucyjne zmiany potęgujące liberalizację prawa wyborczego. W interesie Unii leży uchronienie tego kraju przed rosnącą rosyjską infiltracją oraz powstrzymanie prób ingerencji Moskwy w jego wewnętrzne sprawy, jak finansowanie prorosyjskich ugrupowań opozycyjnych.

Gruzińska polityka wykazuje niezmiennie silny i zdecydowany kierunek proeuroatlantycki. Przed kilkoma miesiącami przyjmowaliśmy rezolucję wzywającą Brukselę do niezwłocznego rozpoczęcia prac nad utworzeniem kompleksowej strefy wolnego handlu oraz utrzymania tempa negocjacji stowarzyszeniowych. Opowiadam się zdecydowanie za zintensyfikowaniem tych działań. Pilnie należy także rozważyć złagodzenie polityki wizowej wobec krajów Partnerstwa Wschodniego.

Problemem nadal pozostaje okupacja przez Rosję części gruzińskich terytoriów. Dodatkowo Rosjanie przenieśli swoje coroczne lipcowe manewry wojskowe na przełom września i października, kiedy to odbędą się gruzińskie wybory. Dlatego nasze dyplomatyczne zaangażowanie względem Tbilisi jest konieczne. Musimy także dołożyć wszelkich starań, aby doprowadzić do wycofania się Rosjan z okupowanych terenów.

 
  
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  Vytautas Landsbergis (PPE). - Mr President, I have some concerns about the situation in and around Georgia.

Three factors related to the upcoming parliamentary elections may destabilise Georgia, even threatening a new bloody intervention from abroad.

The first factor is the ongoing intervention of enormous amounts of Russian money to get corrupted politicians and a sufficient number of poor people engaged in the task of moving Georgia’s European politics back into a pro-Russian stance. The efforts of the Georgian parliament and government to prevent this totally fraudulent electoral campaign are being pre-empted by oligarchic and Kremlin lobbyist propaganda, claiming alleged limitations of freedom. And indeed there are restrictions on the freedom to promote ongoing Nazi- and fascist-type attacks against the current ‘non-ethnic Georgian, non-Orthodox, pro-minorities’, etc. government. Strangely such hate texts are appreciated by blundering European liberals. Let Russian money win in Georgia! That is the goal.

The second factor is the excessively powerful military exercises, just beyond the Georgian border, being postponed precisely for the time of the elections, maybe in the hope of any pre-planned street clashes.

The third and most immediate danger is the current Russian financial decline and emerging social crisis, which may lead the ruling group to try to turn people’s attention towards the external enemy by a renewed victorious Caucasian war. What we need here is boldness.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (S&D). - Mr President, free elections involve campaigning free of intimidation. It is right that we raise in advance questions about the reports of arrests, impounding of assets and restricted access to media in advance of these elections. Indeed for cable TV packages to exclude the opposition-leaning TV channels certainly appears indefensible. I also express my deep concern at the violent breaking up of the country’s first Pride March on the International Day against Homophobia in May earlier this year.

Nevertheless, Georgia is welcoming 400 OSCE election observers, has established a multi-party agency to rule on violations, there is a civil society ‘This Affects You’ campaign which we should support, and I understand that the European Union has started media monitoring, so all involved in the elections must know that we are watching.

Like my colleagues, I stress that these questions are put in a spirit of friendship to the country and its people. Having visited the EU observation mission at the administrative borderline of the occupied territories, I want to use this debate to also invite the Presidency to join me in expressing concern that the head of our mission has been declared persona non grata by the proxy authorities.

Finally, to my EPP colleagues, I place on record our objection that you blocked our oral amendment to the Eastern Partnership report this week, removing an appeal to Georgia to combat child labour, when UNICEF says that there are 2 500 working children on its streets. I understand that your party is about to hold an event in Batumi which could be interpreted as seeking to help Mr Saakashvili’s party. Our role in this Parliament should be to promote functioning democracy, and we do not do so best if it appears that we are scrutinising one party in an election in a third country to a different standard from any other.

 
  
 

Διαδικασία Catch-The-Eye

 
  
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  Arnaud Danjean (PPE). - Monsieur le Président, je dois dire que je suis assez surpris de voir la Géorgie au programme aujourd'hui. Certes, il y a des visites de personnalités éminentes, cela a été rappelé. Certes, il y a des élections au mois d'octobre. Mais ce n'est pas le seul pays où il y a des visites importantes et des élections.

Nous savons très bien pourquoi nous parlons de la Géorgie aujourd'hui. Nous parlons de la Géorgie aujourd'hui parce qu'un oligarque a décidé de participer à des élections – c'est son droit –, et parce qu'il a inondé de dollars et d'euros des cabinets de lobbying à Washington et à Bruxelles, visiblement avec succès puisque nous avons inscrit la Géorgie à notre ordre du jour, non pas pour parler de l'occupation russe, ni de la violation des accords de cessez-le-feu par la Russie ou des manœuvres militaires russes au mois d'octobre, en pleine période d'élections, mais pour parler du processus électoral en Géorgie.

Vous avez rappelé un certain nombre de résolutions, dans lesquelles nous nous sommes prononcés pour une société civile indépendante, pour une opposition forte et crédible. Ce ne sont pas les millions de dollars d'un oligarque qui rendent l'opposition forte et crédible, ni qui rendent la société civile indépendante.

Certes, ne donnons pas un chèque en blanc à M. Saakashvili. Mais un chèque en blanc à cet oligarque qui se lance en politique, cela me semble beaucoup plus dangereux.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE). - Mr President, elections are a challenging time in any democratic country, therefore I share the view of some of my colleagues of not understanding why we have this debate on the agenda at all.

However, truly free and fair elections are not only about respecting provisions and the spirit of the electoral process and results, but also about honest competition and avoiding hate speech. We strongly hope that all political forces in Georgia will refrain from taking politics to the streets, which might lead to violent clashes.

Moreover, the Russian army will be conducting military exercises in the region and, at the time of the elections, a part of the country is still occupied by Russian troops.

Georgia is a young democracy that needs support in her aspirations to integrate further with the European and transatlantic institutions. We need to help the government to continue to carry out reforms. By reassuring Georgia about her prospects, we contribute to the consolidation of democracy and to a stable and reliable partnership with the European Union.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). - Mr President, President Saakashvili is a great political survivor. He has presided over two successful terms of office despite the loss of two provinces to Russia in 2008.

The President has succeeded in bringing his country closer to the EU, via Association Agreement negotiations, and also to NATO, and he has a strong track record of fighting corruption and encouraging free-market economics. He has wisely appointed as Prime Minister the experienced Vano Merabishvili, who must continue now with the sweeping reforms and westward-looking policies of the current administration.

But I do hope there will be a level playing field between billionaire opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, of the Georgian Dream party, and his opponents in the imminent October presidential election. My group, the ECR, has links with the opposition Christian Democratic Party. Democracy is a hard won privilege and must be supported in a small Caucasian country in our EU Eastern Partnership.

I also hope there will be a significant long-term EU observation mission presence to ensure free and fair elections in that beautiful country.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE). - Mr President, the October elections will certainly be a test case for Georgia’s democratic progress. In a way, they will also be a test of EU policies on Georgia.

Now that Georgia has really moved close to the EU, it would be naive to expect that there would be no outside influence trying to turn Georgia back from the European road. The emergence of new populist and nationalist forces is a cause of legitimate concern. Their leader, Mr Ivanishvili, just happens to be the largest individual shareholder in both Lukoil and Gazprom. I think no further recommendation is needed in order to know whose side he is on.

What the EU could do is to insist upon the Moscow Agreement and insist that EU monitors be allowed to monitor the occupied territories. This would demonstrate the Union’s credibility in the region.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI). - Herr Präsident! Georgien ist selber so ein strategisch wichtiger Partner für die Union am Kaukasus und auch religiös und kulturell sehr bedeutsam für uns. Jedoch ist Präsident Micheil Saakaschwili sehr umstritten, und alleine im Mai demonstrierten 80 000 Personen gegen ihn. Die Demokratie ist formell durch freie und geheime Wahlen gesichert, doch werden politische und bürgerliche Rechte sowie die Gewaltenkontrolle oft eingeschränkt. Und gerade kurz vor Ablauf seiner zweiten und letzten Präsidentschaft stärkt Saakaschwili den Posten des Premiers, und Politologen sehen darin die Vorbereitung einer legalen Rochade. Hier hat man sich offensichtlich vom ungeliebten Nachbarn im Kreml, sprich Russland, einiges abgeschaut. Wir müssen daher Acht geben, dass diese jungen Demokratien, die auch schon ein Auge auf die Geldtöpfe der Union geworfen haben – Georgien ist ja Mitglied der Europäischen Nachbarschaftspolitik –, auch die Spielregeln der Demokratie einhalten, denn sowohl verkappte Diktatoren als auch die erwähnten Oligarchen haben in unserem Wertesystem nichts verloren. Das müssen wir ihnen auch entsprechend klarmachen.

 
  
 

(Λήξη της διαδικασίας CatchTheEye)

 
  
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  Andreas Mavroyiannis, President-in-Office of the Council, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. − Mr President, I sincerely thank all honourable Members who expressed their views on this important issue.

Let me start with a general statement. The European Union is not accepting instrumentalisation of the democratic process in pursuit of other agendas or in order to falsify popular will – anywhere or by anybody.

The European Union believes in free and fair elections and that fair competition and genuine participation in the upcoming elections will be fundamental in achieving the legitimacy of election results. The European Union stresses that politically motivated persecution, direct or indirect, by law enforcement agencies or the use of selective justice against political contenders are not compatible with democratic values.

In this regard the European Union is monitoring and will continue to monitor the situation in Georgia leading up to the elections. It will also monitor the conduct of those elections. The High Representative Baroness Ashton met last week with President Saakashvili. Her services have met with representatives of the Georgian Dream Coalition. Both sides have asked for increased EU involvement, in particular to ensure increased transparency.

The European External Action Service is already doing a lot with the organisation of security and cooperation in Europe, including media monitoring – to which many of you referred during the debate.

However, the European External Action Service is also looking at how it can provide further support to ensure maximum transparency. This could include further monitoring of polling, exit-polling and supporting independent civil society organisations. The European Union embassies have set up a special on-the-spot taskforce led by the EU delegation. So we are watching and we are helping.

Overall our position on Georgia is very clear. We welcome strong European Union-Georgia relations. We have seen good progress on the Eastern Partnership Agenda and on the Association Agreement negotiations and we are delighted that steps towards visa liberalisation are now moving ahead.

There are other strategic interests too. The EU recognises the increasing importance of Georgia as an energy-transit country and appreciates its cooperation in developing the Southern Energy Corridor. The EU also recognises Georgia’s significant contribution to peacekeeping efforts around the globe.

We have seen a lot of positive changes since the Rose Revolution but we need to keep up momentum. This means consolidating democracy, broadening and deepening reform efforts, in particular in the judiciary, the economy and the social sphere, and spreading the benefits of development to marginalised groups. But above all, regional security and democratic evolution are key to securing all the benefits which our association can offer.

 
  
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  Πρόεδρος. - Η συζήτηση έληξε.

 
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