European Parliament 'disappointed', proposes suspending financial aid to Georgia
EU proposes suspending financial aid to Georgia
Members of the European Parliament said they were ‘deeply disappointed’ that the authorities and opposition in Georgia have refused to compromise, despite the continued efforts and mediation of the Special Representative of the President of the European Council.
In a joint statement released on the evening of April 1, it is proposed that the European Union suspend financial assistance to Georgia.
Political crisis in Georgia explained
The political crisis in Georgia began shortly after the parliamentary elections in October 2020 were held. The opposition did not recognize the election results and boycotted its seats in parliament. As a result, for the first time in history, virtually a one-party parliament is now operating in the country.
The situation worsened in February 2021, when Nika Melia, the leader of the largest opposition party, the United National Movement, was arrested. Following Melia’s arrest, the opposition and civil activists took it to the streets to voice two of their main demands: the immediate release of political prisoners and the holding of early parliamentary elections.
The same demands are adopted by the country’s opposition bloc, which participated in the EU mediated talks with the ruling party. Several rounds of talks between the Georgian political parties were facilitated by the US Ambassador and other diplomats accredited in Georgia, as well as one of the most influential European officials, President of the European Council Charles Michel. Then, for almost a week, the negotiations in Tbilisi were mediated by his personal representative Christian Danielson, and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili visited Brussels to discuss the ongoing crisis further.
But all the meetings and mediation efforts of high-ranking officials were in vain and now both the ruling party and the opposition are accusing each other of jeopardizing the negotiations
MEPs warn that the rejection of the political consensus will affect future relations between the EU and Georgia.
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“Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes”, a statement released on April 1 said, which was signed by seven influential parliamentarians.
This assistance amounts to 60 million euros, which Georgia expects in October 2021.
“We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice.
This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections.
We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The statement was signed by:
- David McAllister (Germany), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Co-Chair of the Democracy and Electoral Coordination Support Group
- Marina Kaliurand (Estonia), head of the delegation for relations with the South Caucasus
- Andrei Kubilius (Lithuania), Head of Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
- Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Germany), Lead Member of the Georgia Democracy and Electoral Coordination Support Group
- Sven Mikser (Estonia), Permanent Rapporteur of the European Parliament for Georgia
- Michael Galer (Germany), Permanent Rapporteur of the European Parliament for Ukraine
- Petra Austrevijus (Lithuania), Permanent Rapporteur of the European Parliament for Belarus