EU makes further financial assistance conditional on Georgian judiciary reform
EU demands changes in Georgian judiciary
The European Union has demanded changes to the rules for the selection of judges in Georgia based off recommendations of the Venice Commission; this will be made a precondition for the allocation of the next tranche of financial assistance to the country.
This was stated in a special statement by the European Union, published on April 8.
The ultimatum concerns legislative amendments and changes in the procedure for selecting candidates for judges of the Supreme Court, which the Parliament of Georgia adopted on April 1, 2021. The European Union called them “hasty”.
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In fact, only the ruling Georgian Dream party is represented in the Georgian parliament, since the entire opposition, with a few exceptions, has declared a boycott of the parliament and is demanding early elections.
“It is disappointing that the Georgian parliament hastily drafted and adopted these changes without multilateral consultations. We note with regret that Georgia has once already adopted this law in an expedited manner, without a timely appeal to the Venice Commission and without waiting for its final conclusion,” said Nabila Massrali, spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy.
The European Union recommends that the Georgian government contact the Venice Commission as soon as possible to assess the adopted legislative changes.
The statement also says that the EU has repeatedly expressed concern about shortcomings in the selection process for judges in Georgia.
“It is very important that the Supreme Court, as the highest court, is composed of judges whose professional competence and integrity are at the highest level.
“The new rules must be approved by the Venice Commission and then applied equally to all candidates for positions of Supreme Court judges,” the statement said.
EU dissatisfied with the political situation in Georgia
Since mid-March 2021, high-level representatives of the European Council have participated as intermediaries in the political dialogue between the Georgian government and opposition. After all efforts ended in failure, and the parties could not reach an agreement, the European Parliament started talking about the possible suspension of further financial assistance to Georgia.
On April 1, seven influential MEPs issued a letter stating that Georgia may not receive 60 million euros in October 2021 as the second tranche of EU financial assistance, which totals 1.5 billion euros and was allocated in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
MEPs said that a large share of the responsibility for what is happening in the country lies with the government and the ruling Georgian Dream party. But they also blamed the opposition, which also refuses to compromise and boycotts parliament without taking part in legislative activities.
The opposition and the authorities, in response to the letter, once again blame each other for the failure to find compromise.