The EU Commission has announced that failure to pause the appointment of judges to Georgia’s Supreme Court, as provided for in a recent agreement mediated by the EU between the government and the opposition in April, could negatively affect the release of the second tranche of EU financial assistance to the country.
Revising the selection process of Supreme Court judges in line with Venice Commission recommendations before proceeding with appointments, is also a mutually agreed condition for the disbursement of the second tranche of EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia under its current programme, which could be negatively affected by this step,” lead spokesperson for the external affairs of the EU Peter Stano stated.
Georgia:Latest Supreme Court appointments R against @osce_odihr, @VeniceComm recommendations, #AprilAgreement & macro-financial assistance conditions. It is missed opportunity 2prove commitment 2genuine reforms of judiciary ????can have only negative impact https://t.co/zv111BPbdS— Peter Stano (@ExtSpoxEU) July 14, 2021
Peter Stano also noted that the appointment of judges goes ‘against key provisions of the April 19 Agreement.’
The appointments go against key provisions of the April 19 agreement to pause all ongoing appointments, comply fully with all recommendations made by the Venice Commission, and overall to increase the independence, accountability and quality of the justice system in a broad, inclusive and cross-party reform process,” Stano said.
He assessed the process as a missed opportunity for the Georgian government ‘to prove their commitment to a genuine and comprehensive reform of the judiciary.’
The EU is open to further talks at the highest levels to discuss justice reform and the way ahead following these developments, notably in the context of the April 19 Agreement and decisions regarding EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia,” the statement said.
Ruling Georgian Dream party MP Mikheil Sarjveladze, who was First Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia in 2018-2020, says ‘there is no precondition that could threaten the cessation of EU assistance.’
There is no risk that we will be in any conflict with the preconditions of the second tranche of the budget assistance or with any of the provisions of the Charles Michel document. If you pay attention, there is a willingness to negotiate and consult,” Sarjveladze said.
Ruling party member Rati Ionatamishvili also responded to the statement of the EU commission and said that the EU-mediated agreement stated ‘to pause the process of appointing judges and not to abolish it.’
We stopped this process, we waited for various political entities to enter the parliament, we have also given the force of law to the recommendations of the Venice Commission and only after that resumed the process, which was as transparent and inclusive as possible,” noted Ionatamishvili.
The majority of the opposition MPs did not take part in the voting process on Monday.