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Tuesday, 9 March 2021 - Brussels Revised edition

18. The current political situation in Georgia (continuation of debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – We now continue with the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the current political situation in Georgia (2021/2575(RSP)).

 
  
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  Riho Terras (PPE). – Mr President, Vice-President of the Commission let me join the ranks of the colleagues who have voiced their concern about what is taking place in Georgia. We, the European Union, cannot tolerate the raiding of the office of the main opposition party and the imprisonment of its chairman. How can we expect the opposition to negotiate if one of the negotiating parties has been put behind bars?

Finally, the EU must have stronger leverage over Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is acting as a puppeteer. He’s not leading from behind. He’s leading from behind the curtains.

 
  
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  Rasa Juknevičienė (PPE). – Mr President, today I have more questions about Georgia than answers. Until now, it was clear that Georgia was the leader of reforms in the Eastern Partnership region. But today, our close partner has gotten into a political responsibility crisis.

I have always had doubts about the commitment of the de facto leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party to pursue Euro-Atlantic integration. But today, I do not see anybody on either side of the political spectrum willing and ready to take responsibility for the future of the country. Charles Michel offered a helping hand from the EU. If nobody in Georgia accepts it, our common failure will be celebrated by one country only, the one that already holds the occupied Georgian territories.

Dear friends in Georgia, nobody from outside can be more Georgian than Georgians themselves. I wish you courage to take political responsibility for a European democratic Sakartvelas.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE). – Mr President, dear High Representative, recent political developments in Georgia are extremely worrying, especially for a country which has privileged ties to the European Union. With my experience – that is quite reasonable within the Caucus region and even in some respect in the Western Balkans – I can say that the Georgian aspiration to join the European Union and even transatlantic engagement is very strong.

And so we have to say very clearly: politically motivated arrests are unacceptable. This conduct is completely at odds with the values of freedom and democracy and a further polarisation is not the answer. It is time for the parties to adopt a constructive and solution—oriented approach to the current situation. Return to dialogue and find a way to focus on the reforms that matter, especially the rule of law, the judiciary and even electoral rules. I say to all Georgians: we don’t give up, we don’t forget you.

 
  
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  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, many things have been said, but I would like to answer Ms Clare Daly, who, if I understood correctly, mentioned the case of Mr Nika Melia and suggested that there was a silence on the part of the European Union. Let me state that there was no silence.

On 18 February, my spokesperson issued a statement on the day following the Tbilisi City Court’s decision of 17 February on the pre-trial detention of Mr Melia and the resignation of the Prime Minister, Mr Gakharia. In this statement, we urged both the authorities and the opposition in Georgia to act with restraint and responsibility to avoid further escalation, making a specific reference to the case of Mr Melia. So, I think this explanation is interesting and useful to explain how things were.

Then there is the whole debate about the situation in Georgia. All of you have been mentioning it. I can only explain, once again, our position and what we can expect in order to try to resolve this difficult situation. We are helping Georgia a lot. We are the largest donor in Georgia. We have allocated important support to Georgia to face the coronavirus pandemic. We hope that, with the mediation efforts launched by President Charles Michel, we will be more ready to help to resolve the issues involved in the search for a political agreement. We have been talking about it.

The main outstanding issues in the political stalemate are the issues of electoral reform, justice reform, perception of a politicised justice, power sharing in Parliament and – this is the most difficult issue – the question of early new elections or a possible plebiscite. All of these issues will have to be dealt with during the efforts that we are going to develop with the nomination of this mediator. I hope that this will be useful to resolve the political crisis in Georgia.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 171)

 
  
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  Andrea Bocskor (NI), írásban. – Egy éve a georgiai politikai pártok között egyetértési megállapodás jött létre, amit mindannyian üdvözöltünk, hiszen a belpolitikai csatározások károsak az ország számára. Ősszel a georgiai nép választott és ezt mindenkinek tiszteletben kell tartania, az ellenzéknek a parlamentben van a helye, nem az utcán, a tiltakozások nem segítik a jelenlegi helyzetet, csak súlyosbítják a feszültséget és fokozzák a koronavírus terjedését. A kormánypártnak és az ellenzéknek konstruktívan a párbeszédre kell törekedni, tárgyalóasztalhoz kell ülni és mielőbb megoldást, kiutat kell találni a helyzetből, hiszen ez szolgálja az ország és a georgiai nép érdekeit. Georgia bejelentette, hogy 2024-ben EU-tagsági kérelem benyújtását tervezi.

Georgia nagyon fontos keleti partnerországa az EU-nak, de az Európai Unióhoz való csatlakozáshoz az országnak bizonyos feltételeket teljesítenie kell. Ez akkor érhető el, ha a kormányzó és ellenzéki pártoknak sikerül megállapodniuk és együttműködniük a reformok végrehajtása, a COVID-19 járvány megfékezése és a gazdaság stabilizálása érdekében. Fontos, hogy az EU segítse Georgia demokratikus törekvéseit, európai integrációját, de ez csak akkor valósulhat meg, ha ebben Georgia is partner. Egy évvel ezelőtt a georgiai pártok példát mutattak, sikerült egy olyan megállapodást kötniük, amely a georgiai nép és az ország érdekeit szolgálta, remélem, ez ezúttal is sikerülni fog.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete (PPE), in writing. – Following the recent disturbing events in Georgia, I have asked to add this item to the upcoming Plenary agenda. The EU stands firmly alongside Georgia in supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as its reform process on the path to realising the European aspirations. Unfortunately, the unacceptable arrest of opposition politician Nika Melia on the basis of politically motivated charges as well as the raiding of opposition party offices has placed Georgia on a dangerous trajectory. The use of the force by the government marks a perilous moment for Georgian democracy. Political prisoners and attacks on party headquarters are not acceptable in democratic societies and neither is the pervasive influence of the oligarchs through hidden networks. The only way forward is a broad and committed de-escalation of the situation and facilitation of the conditions for peaceful negotiations before the point of no-return. I call for both sides to respect the commitment to the political dialogue which was relaunched together with President of the European Council Charles Michel. From our side, we must ensure that EU the acts as a good and honest moderator and that Georgia can continue its path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

 
  
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  Gheorghe-Vlad Nistor (PPE), in writing. – I commend the people of Georgia for all the progress they have made over the last thirty years. Georgia’s post-Soviet transition was a very difficult and tumultuous one, as we well know, facing both internal problems and foreign aggression. Despite all these, Georgia managed to keep on the European path of reform and modernisation. Regarding ongoing developments, it is indeed a worrying moment for Georgian democracy. Keeping in mind the negative recent and current developments in the South Caucasus, EU support and guidance is extremely needed at this time. I salute Council President Michel’s recent mediation in Tbilisi and the creation of the position of special envoy who’s aim is to facilitate dialogue between government and opposition and resolve the current crisis. All these measures, together with the debate we are having here today, clearly show Georgia’s importance for its EU partners. I wish the best of luck, both to our representatives and to the political negotiators within Georgia in finding a solution to this stalemate which, if continued, will harm Georgia’s democracy, its relations with the EU and the Association Agreement and make it more vulnerable to other threats.

 
  
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  Urmas Paet (Renew), kirjalikult. – Pärast Gruusia suurima opositsioonipartei Ühinenud Rahvuslik Liikumine esimehe Nikanor Melia arreteerimist on poliitiline polariseerumine riigis kahetsusväärselt veelgi süvenenud. Riigi poliitiline olukord on viimastel kuudel põhjustanud tõsist muret ning poliitiline polarisatsioon on kasvamas. Valitsev olukord võib kahjustada Gruusia demokraatiat. Gruusia on olnud ja jääb Euroopa Liidu peamiseks assotsieerunud partneriks. Gruusia ja EL on koos loonud assotsieerimislepingu, mis on kaasa toonud tiheda poliitilise koostöö ja majandusliku integratsiooni. Oluline on, et eelkõige Gruusia osapooled ise panustaksid ja peaksid omavahel dialoogi. Vaid kõikide osapoolte täielikul osalusel ja panustamisel on võimalik jõuda kompromissini. Oluline osa on ka Gruusia opositsioonil, kelle käes on konstruktiivne roll demokraatia ja õigusriigi tugevdamisel. Gruusia valitsuselt eeldatakse kaasavat juhtimist, seades nii just Gruusia rahva huvid esikohale. Provokatiivsed teod ja retoorika tuleb kõrvale heita. Rahvas ei pea elama pideva poliitilise kriisi keskel. Gruusia poliitilised otsustajad võlgnevad Gruusia rahvale kindla ja turvalise poliitilise keskkonna, kus riik saab keskenduda COVID-19 pandeemiast taastumisele, panustada rahvusvahelisse koostöösse ning saada osa Euroopa Liiduga sõlmitud assotsieerumislepingust.

 
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