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Ċiklu relatat mad-dokument : A9-0136/2020

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A9-0136/2020

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It-Tnejn, 14 ta' Settembru 2020 - Brussell Edizzjoni riveduta

25. L-implimentazzjoni tal-Ftehim ta' Assoċjazzjoni tal-UE mal-Georgia (dibattitu)
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  Przewodnicząca. – Kolejnym punktem porządku dziennego jest sprawozdanie sporządzone przez Svena Miksera w imieniu Komisji Spraw Zagranicznych w sprawie wdrażania układu o stowarzyszeniu UE z Gruzją (2019/2200(INI)) (A9-0136/2020).

 
  
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  Kati Piri, deputising for the rapporteur. – Madam President, it is the first time in this Parliament that I address you on behalf of a colleague, and not on behalf of myself: the rapporteur, Sven Mikser, who unfortunately couldn’t be here today. So allow me to give you his statement.

As we are discussing a report focusing on the implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia, I would like to recall that the Association Agreement is a comprehensive framework that covers a wide range of policy areas from political dialogue, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, all the way to economic and trade relations. The report points out that enhanced cooperation and EU assistance to Georgia are based on the more-for-more principle and are conditional on continued reform processes across all policy areas. Georgia has undertaken ambitious reforms and achieved a lot. It deserves to be underscored that Georgia’s European aspirations enjoy broad support among almost all the political parties as well as among the Georgian people. The report also recalls that the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and ECFTA aims to gradually integrate the country with the EU single market and calls on the Commission to be more vocal in promoting and advancing this goal.

Political life in Georgia, as we all know, is lively and dynamic. A worrying trend is the increased polarisation of the political scene. This report underscores the need to de-escalate the political discourse and continue reforms in order to guarantee media freedom and independence of the judiciary. Recently, Georgia has experienced a period of tensions between the government and the political opposition over changes to the electoral system. At the end of June the Georgian parliament passed a constitutional amendment that is designed to provide for more proportional representation and, hopefully, for more pluralistic political discourse after the parliamentary elections in 2020. With those elections approaching, the report emphasises the need to uphold and protect media freedom and guarantee equal access to the media for all political parties during this important election campaign.

The elections will take place on 31 October, and I believe that if the COVID-19 situation allows for it, the European Parliament should also dispatch an election observation mission to Georgia. The report commends Georgia’s internationally-acclaimed response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and I would also like to highlight the exemplary cooperation between the EU and Georgia in responding to this crisis. And while assessing the progress Georgia has made, we cannot forget that one fifth of the territory of the country continues to be occupied. Hundreds of thousands of people are unable to return to their homes or face restrictions to their fundamental rights and freedom. And in addition, Georgia continues to be a target of Russian hybrid activities. The report strongly condemns the ongoing provocations and the borderisation activities that continue along the administrative boundary line.

Finally, the report received the almost unanimous support of the Foreign Affairs Committee in this House, and the rapporteur, Sven Mikser, would like to thank all the political parties and the Groups who expressed their support to the legitimate aspirations of the Georgian people as well as to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.

 
  
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  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Madam President, as you know very well, Georgia is a very close partner in our neighbourhood and subscribes to an ambitious Association Agreement with a deep and comprehensive free-trade area underpinned by common values, shared ownership and responsibility. Our relations have been maturing from the human rights agenda to connectivity, security, cooperation and academic exchanges under Erasmus+. Our norms on standards are gradually aligning, making real improvements in the lives of Georgian citizens.

We are looking forward to continuing to cooperate with Georgia, to agree joint priorities in an Association Agenda for post-2020, strengthening our cooperation, for instance to fight abuses in the visa-free regime, and I am also confident that our Eastern Partnership in March 2020 will devise a compelling vision for our multilateral relations. Our solidarity to support Georgia in mitigating the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 is steadfast. I think more than EUR 180 million in bilateral funds and EUR 150 million in macro-financial assistance remains conditional on progress made.

Let me have a look at the domestic challenges and opportunities of this country, and let me make reference to three important issues: the electoral context; the justice reform; and the conflicts. This is a crucial month ahead of the October parliamentary elections in Georgia. In March, the political parties reached a historic agreement, co-facilitated by the European Union delegation. It created a new electoral system more conducive to inclusive gradual and transparent elections. And now we expect effective implementation of these laws and respect for the highest democratic standards.

In the justice sector it is important for the Georgian parliament to revisit the selection procedure for Supreme Court judges, which undermines a transparent, genuine, merit-based nomination process, as you mentioned in the report. It is critical to uphold the highest standards of ethics and integrity in the judiciary.

Finally, let me also reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. I agree with you that the continuing borderisation is completely unacceptable, since we have seen a deterioration of security along the administrative boundary line with the breakaway region of South Ossetia, such as in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area. I am also very concerned about the continuous closure of crossing points, complicating medical treatment, contacts and access to livelihood. We are constantly reiterating our concerns to Russia in bilateral and multilateral fora and we will continue doing so on behalf of the stability of Georgia that deserves peaceful borders with all its neighbours. Thank you for your attention. I’m looking forward to our discussion.

 
  
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  Andrea Bocskor, a PPE képviselőcsoport nevében. – Tisztelt Elnök Asszony! Gratulálok előadó kollégámnak a kiegyensúlyozott jelentéshez, mely – remélem – széles támogatást kap a szavazás során. Georgia jó úton halad, elkötelezett a társulási megállapodás, valamint a DCFTA végrehajtása mellett, erőfeszítéseket tett a demokrácia, az alapvető emberi és szabadságjogok és a jó kormányzás érdekében. A belpolitikai feszültség feloldása céljából március 8-án egyetértési megállapodás jött létre, melynek eredményeként módosították az alkotmányt és a választási törvényt a nemzetközi ajánlások szerint, így az októberi parlamenti választás már az új elvek alapján fog zajlani. Ez egy mérföldkő Georgia belpolitikai környezetének normalizálása terén, amit mindannyian várunk, és reméljük, hogy fair és tiszta választásokat fogunk látni.

A georgiai társadalom Európát választotta, így támogatnunk kell ebben. Kölcsönösen ki kell aknáznunk a társulási megállapodásban rejlő lehetőségeket a gazdasági, kereskedelmi együttműködés elmélyítése érdekében. Fontos a pozitív megközelítés, a többet többért elv, és fontos Georgia támogatása a szükséges reformok végrehajtásában. Fontos a fiatalok segítése, hogy minél inkább részt vehessenek az EU mobilitási programjaiban, és minőségi tanulási lehetőségeket kapjanak. Kiemelném Georgia hatékony védekezését a Covid-járvány idején, amely példaértékű. Végezetül hangsúlyoznám, hogy ki kell állnunk Georgia szuverenitása és területi integritása mellett, és azt kell kijelentenünk, hogy támogatjuk euroatlanti és NATO-integrációs törekvéseit. Köszönöm.

 
  
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  Marina Kaljurand, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, to start with, I would also like to thank my good colleague Sven Mikser for this timely and well-balanced report. It is encouraging to see that popular support for the EU remains at a record high in Georgia. This also means the Georgian people deserve our solidarity. Therefore, as the co-chair of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee, I would like to reiterate our full and unwavering support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The report on the implementation of the association agreement is an excellent framework to evaluate Georgia’s progress and talk openly about challenges. I welcome the recent electoral reform in line with the recommendations of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and hope that it will contribute to ease the polarisation in Georgia’s political and media landscape. I would also like to recognise the promotion of women’s representation. I urge all political parties, especially and including the opposition, to do their utmost to guarantee peaceful, fair and free elections on 21 October. These elections will be crucial in determining Georgia’s future for years to come.

Georgia has an impressive reform record. Of course, further approximation is still needed in some areas like environmental protection and the fight against discrimination of vulnerable groups. It is also true that Georgia is a young democracy where the rule of law must be further consolidated.

To conclude, I would like to congratulate the Georgian authorities for handling the COVID-19 crisis in an exemplary manner.

 
  
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  Urmas Paet, on behalf of the Renew Group. – Madam President, the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia on 31 October are a possibility for Georgia to demonstrate to its people that it is set and ready to be a stable democratic country.

The agreement reached by the political parties earlier this year on electoral reforms is the right step and must be fully implemented in order to be able to move forward and to overcome the political polarisation that has long been hampering progress in Georgia.

The Georgian authorities should refrain from pursuing any politically motivated judicial cases and harassing opposition politicians. It is also imperative to guarantee media freedom, editorial independence and to take steps to prevent disinformation campaigns. Also, the people must be guaranteed freedom of thought and assembly. There are still many areas that need to be improved, like consolidating the rule of law, the fight against corruption and strengthening human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It has been 12 years since the beginning of the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia. Unfortunately the conflict is still there. The ongoing illegal borderisation along the dividing lines damages the situation, prolongs the conflict and destabilises the whole region. In these especially fragile times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unacceptable that the de—facto South Ossetian authorities have repeatedly denied emergency medical evacuations and incoming humanitarian aid.

We have the obligation to not forget this conflict, but to continue supporting Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

 
  
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  Thierry Mariani, au nom du groupe ID. – Monsieur le Président, l'histoire récente de la Géorgie conduit à réclamer une politique équilibrée et prudente envers Tbilissi. Je me souviens de la stupeur de la communauté internationale, à la suite des terribles conséquences pour la Géorgie de la défaite de 2008, après les aventures de M. Mikheil Saakachvili, qui abandonna ensuite le pays pour rejoindre l’Ukraine.

Je doute que nous ayons retenu la leçon douloureuse de cette expérience, car l'Union européenne ne cherche plus à améliorer ses relations avec les membres du Partenariat oriental, mais à leur décerner de bons ou de mauvais points de l'atlantisme. Le gouvernement serbe a récemment annoncé qu'il arrêtait l'exercice militaire conjoint «Fraternité slave» avec la Russie et la Biélorussie, à cause des pressions de l'Union européenne. Dans le même temps, l'exercice militaire «Partenaire noble» s'ouvrait en Géorgie sous l'égide de l'OTAN et réunissait 2 800 soldats avec la participation de l'armée française.

Quand allons-nous enfin nous émanciper de la tutelle américaine? Allons-nous continuer à confier le destin d'une partie de notre continent à une organisation décrite à raison comme en état de mort cérébrale et dont l'action se résume parfois à multiplier les provocations envers la Russie pour soutenir la supériorité finissante des États-Unis?

 
  
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  Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, we would like to thank the rapporteur for his excellent work. Since we have seen many challenges in Georgia throughout the past year, it was good to see that cooperation among the international friends of Georgia worked. With all our and your support, the major political parties struck a deal on a new electoral system for the upcoming elections. These elections are crucial to Georgia’s democratic path. Georgia also demonstrated significant success in fighting COVID-19. In this struggle, the EU supported Georgia with assistance worth some EUR 100 million.

Despite being the leader in the region, some problems still have to be overcome. Internally, the shadow rule of billionaire Ivanishvili threatens democracy. Externally Russia’s continuous hybrid war threatens the country’s sovereignty through military occupation, creeping annexation and cyberattacks. We need to support Georgia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its European future. A level playing field should be guaranteed for all political actors, while the judicial system should become more transparent.

 
  
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  Anna Fotyga, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Madam President, I would like to thank the rapporteur for the excellent report. Despite obstacles and difficulties, Georgia is maintaining its Euro—Atlantic direction, in particular in the security and defence domain.

In the run—up to the parliamentary election, I urge the Georgian authorities to ensure its free, fair and transparent character. I also appeal to them to free Giorgi Rurua, thus fulfilling the 8 March agreement reached with all the opposition leaders.

 
  
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  Michael Gahler (PPE). – Frau Präsidentin! Ich möchte mich zunächst beim Kollegen Sven Mikser für seinen umfassenden Bericht herzlich bedanken.

Ich freue mich, dass es einen breiten Konsens in der Bewertung der Entwicklung Georgiens hier im Hause gibt. In Georgien gibt es einen breiten politischen Konsens hinsichtlich der europäischen Ausrichtung des Landes. Die EU hat ja im Gegensatz zu Russland auch etwas Positives anzubieten.

Gleichwohl ist die politische Landschaft, wie in den meisten Transformationsstaaten, sehr polarisiert und vom gegenseitigen Misstrauen geprägt. Das ist weder der innenpolitischen Atmosphäre noch einer Annäherung an die EU zuträglich. Deshalb ist es außerordentlich begrüßenswert, dass alle großen Parteien sich auf die gemeinsame Erklärung vom 8. März geeinigt haben, in der man sich auf ein neues Wahlsystem geeinigt hat – im Einklang auch mit den Empfehlungen der Venedig-Kommission. Ich möchte bei der Gelegenheit insbesondere unserem Botschafter Hartzell und seinem Team herzlich für ihren Beitrag dazu danken.

Ich hoffe, dass der Wahlkampf und die Wahl am 31. Oktober von allen Verantwortlichen im Geist der Fairness bei der Anwendung des neuen rechtlichen Rahmens genutzt werden. Wenn die Medien die Vielfalt der politischen Meinungen fair widerspiegeln, wenn die Wahlbeobachter den Eindruck haben, dass die Bürger ihre Stimmen gut informiert abgeben konnten und die Wahlbehörde über jeden Zweifel erhaben ist, dass sie unparteiisch agiert, dann wäre das ein guter Tag für das Land und seine Zukunft.

 
  
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  Nacho Sánchez Amor (S&D). – Señora presidenta, quisiera agradecer, como el resto de sus señorías, el trabajo excelente de Sven Mikser. Nos congratulamos de que Georgia vuelva al camino de la reforma que lo ha convertido, como han dicho algunas de sus señorías, en uno de los países de la zona que más se acerca a los estándares europeos, tras superar una doble crisis, que ha sido superada con el diálogo y con la negociación y, en este punto, reconozco también el trabajo del Servicio Europeo de Acción Exterior y del embajador Hartzell para manejar ese acuerdo con la oposición.

Lamentamos que la oposición no haya apoyado en el Parlamento la reforma constitucional y la reforma electoral, a pesar de sus compromisos y a pesar de los indultos que se produjeron, que eran una de sus peticiones. Fuimos muy exigentes con el Gobierno y muy exigentes con el partido mayoritario y creemos que la oposición debía haber apoyado esas reformas, que eran la continuidad del acuerdo político al que contribuyó la Unión Europea y que, además, benefician, al perder el sesgo mayoritario, a esos partidos menores en el sistema.

En cualquier caso, con ese nuevo marco las elecciones siguen adelante. Y la preocupación ahora, señor Borrell, es cómo vamos a observar unas elecciones en una situación de pandemia, con unas dificultades por parte del Parlamento y con dificultad para articular una misión de las habituales. Acabo de saber que la OSCE va a enviar una misión electoral normal. Creo que la Unión Europea, el Servicio Europeo de Acción Exterior y el Parlamento deben hacer lo mismo y debemos apoyar, en cualquier caso, la observación doméstica, porque hay grandes ONG trabajando muy profesionalmente en ese país. Porque es necesario tranquilizar el periodo inmediatamente después de las elecciones, en un clima tan polarizado como es tradicional en Georgia y, para eso, una observación internacional ha sido siempre imprescindible. Para que Georgia siga en ese camino que todos hemos alabado, en la dirección de los valores europeos.

 
  
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  Helmut Geuking (ECR). – Frau Präsidentin! Mir war es im letzten Jahr vergönnt, mit der Delegation nach Georgien zu reisen.

Ich war erstaunt, wie schnell der Staat reagierte: Ich kriegte da die Liste übergeben mit den 85 Inhaftierten, innerhalb von 24 Stunden wurde das geregelt – 81 waren ja frei, und vier wurden angeklagt, aber auch zu Recht angeklagt, weil sie mit Waffengewalt einen Umsturz versucht hatten. Also Georgien, will ich damit sagen, war sehr flexibel.

Wir hatten das Wahlrecht angesprochen. 2024 sollte es erst geändert werden. Es wurde, wie wir alle wissen, im März geändert. Also das sind alles Zeichen, dass Georgien unbedingt nach Europa möchte und das lieber gestern als heute. Das heißt, wir haben es in der Hand, dass wir Georgien schnellstmöglich in unser Haus Europa holen. Denn wir wissen alle um die Situation mit Russland, wir sehen es auf der Krim, mit der Ukraine, wie Russland teilweise agiert, und wir wissen um die besetzten Gebiete auch in Georgien.

Hier ist Europa jetzt in der Pflicht. Wir sollten jetzt schnellstmöglich Georgien nach Europa holen und es wirklich zum vollständigen Mitglied machen. Georgien ist so weit. Deswegen liegt es an uns, nach den Wahlen im Oktober hier tätig zu werden und zu sagen: Georgien wird volles Mitglied in der Europäischen Union. Das würde ich mir wünschen, damit das Land eine richtige Perspektive hat. Es hat sich so gut entwickelt, dass wir jetzt am Zuge sind, diesen letzten Schritt auch zu vollziehen, und nicht nur ein Abkommen.

 
  
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  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Madam President, honourable Members are right that these are crucial times for Georgia to demonstrate the maturity of its democracy. I have also been in Georgia in difficult times, much more difficult than now.

The country is demonstrating democratic strength and economic development, and I think that we have to welcome that this Parliament will be stepping up its cooperation with the Georgian Parliament after the next elections and will also not shy away from reminding Georgia of the need to deliver on the full reform agenda. The problems at their borders should not be an excuse for not solving the problems in the interior of the country that only the Georgian people can solve. The European Union, through our Association Agreement, will continue supporting Georgia in this endeavour.

 
  
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  Kati Piri, deputising for the rapporteur. – Madam President, [inaudible] to close today’s plenary. This debate clearly demonstrates that Georgia has made substantial progress on its European path. This Parliament acknowledges the reforms on the part of the Georgian Government which strengthen democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and of course, we also know work is still to be done.

Let me just highlight two items that require Georgia’s continued commitment. First and absolutely core in the implementation of the Association Agreement is the need for the Georgian Government to consolidate the rule of law and to continue its pursuit of justice reform.

Second, and crucial to Georgia’s adherence to the terms in the Association Agreement, is guaranteeing media freedom. We all know that Georgia’s media landscape is highly politicised and as we are here speaking on Georgia ahead of the national elections, we also know the great responsibility that lies on the shoulders of all the political parties in Georgia to ensure a free and fair election.

Let me conclude with some positive words, with some words of support. Georgia is a country close to my heart. Some of my best friends live in that country and the country has come a long way in its aspirations for democracy, freedom and prosperity, and that in a very difficult geopolitical environment. The EU must recognise this and continue to be a key motivator for reforms to continue. I think we all agree that the Georgian people deserve no less.

 
  
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  Przewodnicząca. – Zamykam debatę.

Głosowanie nad poprawkami odbędzie się we wtorek 15 września 2020 r., a głosowanie końcowe – w środę 16 września 2020 r.

 
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