Parliament Speaker hopes for “productive exchange” with opposition, NGOs on EU accession work

Papuashvili said the lawmaking body had launched work on the implementation of the EU conditions last month. Photo: Shalva Papuashvili’s Facebook, 29 Jan 2024 - 11:45, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Monday said he anticipated a “productive exchange” with domestic opposition and members of the civil sector on the work for the nine conditions outlined by the European Commission in November for opening the European Union accession talks with Tbilisi after the latter’s obtaining the bloc’s candidacy in December. 

The Commission recommended the European Council in November to grant Georgia the EU membership candidate status with the conditions that range from efforts to combat disinformation and foreign information manipulation about the EU and its values, to further alignment of the country’s foreign and security policies with the bloc, to reforms in the judiciary, electoral and human rights areas.

The conditions also include ensuring a systemic approach to deoligarchisation, additional efforts for depolarising the domestic political environment and improvements to the Parliament's oversight function. 

The meeting later on Monday between members of the ruling Georgian Dream party, the opposition and the civil sector comes following the Government's unveiling in late December of an action plan for meeting the conditions. 

In his press comments, Papuashvili said the lawmaking body had launched work on the implementation of the conditions last month.

He noted the work concerned the funding of domestic political parties, which he claimed was based on the opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe on the deoligarchisation action plan unveiled early in December. 

The official claimed despite private agreement from the opposition in closed door meetings, they did not back the initiative either in public statements or in parliamentary sessions. 

Papuashvili stressed his body was “diligently following” the action plan endorsed by the Government Commission for European Integration for meeting the conditions, adhering “strictly” to the outlined schedule and steps. 

The European Commission has also been consulted and has given its approval to the action plan. Our agenda for today includes addressing all pertinent matters. While a portion of the nine steps falls within the Parliament's jurisdiction, as opposed to the [previous] 12 recommendations [for EU candidacy], a significant portion pertains to practical implementation. Therefore, I anticipate a productive meeting where all stakeholders have the opportunity to voice their ideas, opinions, and positions", Papuashvili said.

He added combating disinformation and adherence to EU foreign policy statements and instruments “primarily” fell under the Government's competence, noting “Georgia boasts positive statistics in these areas, including those related to accession”. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia oversees the issue of combating disinformation and its institutional aspects. We are actively engaged in combating disinformation through daily statements”, he noted. 

Papuashvili also said topics related to depolarisation of the domestic political scene and parliamentary cooperation for the purpose, judicial matters, electoral concerns, anti-corruption efforts and the work of the Special Investigation Service would be discussed during today's session. 

He further noted the polarisation, although “prevalent in modern politics and amplified by social media”, was not Georgia's primary concern, claiming it became a “problem when the country’s authorities do not have the ability to make decisions”, which he said was not the case in Georgia.

He said the “real challenge” was in “radicalisation manifested in the opposition's refusal” to acknowledge the Government's legitimacy and their “pursuit of alternative methods to gain power”.