Vice-President of European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles stated at the press conference following the EU-Georgia Association Council earlier today that this meeting is being held in a ‘pivotal moment’ for Georgia amid the current political crisis.
Since the last parliamentary elections in Autumn, the European Union has repeatedly said that all political actors need to find common ground and look for a way forward from the current political situation”, Borrell said.
This, he noted, is especially essential and important when Georgia has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic as well as to move forward with its ‘wide-reaching reform agenda’ including electoral and judiciary reforms.
Noting that ‘the special responsibility rests with the ruling party and the government to find a way forward’, Borrell stated as well that ‘boycotting parliamentary activity is not helpful for a functioning democracy, for political pluralism’.
It’s not by boycotting parliament that we can look for solutions in the framework of political pluralism. All parties, all political actors within Georgia must look at the wider consequences of the current situation and we have been asking everybody to put the interest of Georgian people first and find compromises”, Borrell said.
On his part, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili who leads the Georgian delegation to Brussels reiterated Georgia’s ‘deep commitment’ to joining the EU ‘as a strong, reliable and democratic partner’.
Georgia represents an important platform of democracy in a turbulent geopolitical region. We see our future with European Union. We are committed to go[ing] down a difficult but rewarding path of reforms. In this process we very much value the EU’s close engagement by advancing Georgia’s European aspirations”, PM Garibashvili said.
He further noted that European Council President Charles Michel’s recent visit to Georgia - who mediated a dialogue between the ruling party and opposition - was ‘a clear and welcome sign of EU’s commitment to Georgia’.
In his address Garibashvili also reiterated Georgia’s willingness to submit an EU membership application in 2024 ‘as a thriving democracy’. This, he said, is a strong motivation for the country ‘to advance on all necessary political and economic reforms’ in line with its commitments under the association agreement.
*The full press conference is available here.
The EU-Georgia association council held ahead of the press conference chaired by Josep Borrell welcomed Georgia’s progress on its European path, including in the challenging COVID-19 context and recognised the efforts of the Georgian government to contain the virus as well as to ensure targeted social assistance to those in need.
Noting that last year’s parliamentary elections ‘were competitive and that, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected’, the council agreed on the importance of addressing all recommendations related to the shortcomings identified by international observers ‘through ambitious and inclusive electoral reform in order to strengthen the electoral environment and render it more favourable for the democratic conduct of elections’.
Strongly regretting ‘the deepening political polarisation in Georgia’ the EU has further called for a ‘swift resolution to the ongoing political situation, for all parties to step up efforts to de-escalate the situation and come together to identify and agree on common ground’.
EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi who also attended the EU-Georgia association council has tweeted:
#COVID-19: EU has been quick to react & show solidarity w Georgia. We mobilised €183 million of assistance last year + €150 million macro financial assistance. Our focus is now on the vaccination campaigns, w support through #COVAX & EU sharing mechanism under preparation. pic.twitter.com/KTLgK650JS— Oliver Varhelyi (@OliverVarhelyi) March 16, 2021
Varhelyi said at the press conference that at the association agreement the parties ‘discussed at length how to tap into the full potential of the Association Agreement and how to provide further tangible benefits for the citizens of Georgia’.
PM Garibashvili left for Brussels to attend the sixth meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council yesterday. Today he held two meetings with Charles Michel, whose special envoy Christian Danielsson continues to mediate the talks between the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition in Tbilisi.