European Parliament debates Georgia, a day before AA ratification

EP members will vote to ratify the EU-Georgia deal on December 18, 2014., 18 Dec 2014 - 13:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

A day before European Parliament (EP) is expected to vote and ratify the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA), EP members held debates regarding Georgia.

Yesterday's debate highlighted that most politicians at the European Parliament would support the ratification of the EU-Georgia association deal today.

Georgia’s official delegation is expected to attend the official ratification ceremony in Strasbourg, France. The delegation will include the country’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia Tedo Japaridze and chairman of the European Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia Victor Dolidze.

Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who was invited by the European People’s Party (EPP), was also expected to attend the session.

Meanwhile, today the EP will adopt a resolution in connection with Georgia based on the recommendations delivered by the Georgian Government and reports prepared by Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins, who is a rapporteur on Georgia.

The draft of the document outlined that the EP welcomed recent reforms by the Georgian authorities designed to further strengthen the stability, independence and effectiveness of institutions responsible for guaranteeing democracy (particularly that of the judicial institutions).

The EP was also pleased Georgia had made efforts to enforce the rule of law and good governance but it expressed concerned about "the lack of accountability of the prosecutor’s office” and about numerous former government officials and current opposition figures being charged and imprisoned.

During the debate European Commissioner for Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos focused that ratification of the AA and strong support by the EP would be "an important message for reinforcement” of EU-Georgia cooperation.

"Our discussions have confirmed that we agreed on the need to continue strongly supporting Georgia move closer to the EU,” Avramopoulos said.

Avramopoulos also welcomed Georgia's political commitment to continue necessary reforms, particularly regarding the acceleration of reforms in the field of justice, rule of law and the respect of fundamental rights of all citizens without discrimination.

He believed the prosecution should be transparent, proportionate and free from political motivation.

"Georgia is one of the frontrunners of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy. [..] The Association Agreement with Georgia is a result of the EU’s determination to build a democratic, stable and prosperous state in the region, which is key strategic importance for the EU,” Avramopoulos said.

He also highlighted that provisional application of the DCFTA, which launched on September 1, "is already showing the first results”, citing a 15 percent increase of Georgian exports, mainly in nuts and mineral products, to the EU in September 2014.

Meanwhile, Mamikins noted that the AA between Georgia and the EU was not targeting any other post-Soviet Country.

"This cooperation will benefit Georgia and the whole region including its neighbour countries,” Mamikins said.

In his remarks, Mamikins also expressed hope that the vote would be positive and it would support Georgia.

"This agreement opens new possibilities and shows solidarity with Georgian people."

Members of European Parliament also focused on Russian issues, particularly Russia’s occupation of Georgian territories. Some of the speakers of the discussion noted that Georgia had remained committed to its European path despite facing pressure from Moscow.

The original draft, however, was amended when it was discussed by the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee in November with many of the changes introduced by the EPP group to reflect in the text their concern over "selective justice” and prosecution of former government officials.

Officials in Tbilisi believed the document would reflect the "progress Georgia achieved during the past years”.