"We're not saying which oligarch is good, which bad" - European Commissioner at a briefing with the Prime Minister of Georgia
Briefing by European Commissioner and Georgian PM
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Oliver Vargelyi held a joint briefing in which, among other things, they talked about Georgia’s European future and the country’s deoligarchization.
The main points of the briefing follow.
Georgia should apply to the Venice Commission to assess the bill on deoligarchization, said Oliver Vargeyi. It is necessary to determine to what extent this legal instrument will bring the country closer to the implementation of the EU recommendation regarding deoligarchization. The bill should be a framework document, and the recommendation is not tied to a specific person.
“We do not say which oligarch is good and which is bad. The idea is to clearly define the criteria. No one should exert undue influence on political, legislative or legal decisions in their own interests or even in the interests of others who ultimately benefit the oligarch. Our criteria are the same for everyone and in no case apply to any particular person,” the European Commissioner explained.
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The Georgian government is actively working on the EU’s twelve points, Oliver Vargeyi said. Positive changes are already visible in the reform of the judiciary, and progress is noticeable in anti-corruption efforts, where Georgia has the best indicator in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to the rating of the organization International Transparency.
The commissioner added, “however, we will have to work hard to ensure that the anti-corruption agency is fully independent:
“We need a law on deoligarchization. I understand that work in this direction has begun. And, of course, steps are needed to strengthen the fight against organized crime. You know perfectly well which of the twelve points I have in mind. The sooner Georgia implements these 12 recommendations, the faster it will move on the road to Europe.”
In turn, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that despite the need for depolarization, the Georgian opposition is not participating in fulfilling the twelve points. According to Garibashvili, in just a week the country’s parliament took the initiative and presented its plan on “how we, the ruling party, the [Georgian Dream] party, the government, the parliament will implement all twelve recommendations.”
“At that time, all actors were invited to work — opposition parties, the non-governmental sector, everyone who is interested in this plan. Candidate status is not the property of the government. The status of a candidate is the status of a country, therefore all citizens of our country should work on obtaining it. I would like to emphasize once again that the doors are open to everyone,” Garibashvili said.
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History won’t offer the same chance twice when it comes to Georgia’s European future and candidate status, European Commissioner Oliver Vargelyi said.
“That’s why we have to seize this opportunity and make it a reality. Very important decisions and proposals are being made and prepared in Parliament, and I see that the Georgian government is actively working to ensure that all twelve recommendations are done.”
“I am very glad that I returned to Georgia. It’s been over a year since I came here. To be honest, I can already see development — the economy is booming. I drove around the city, and I can see how the economy has developed over the past year. Progress is noticeable in Georgia,” Vargeyi said.
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According to a compromise document passed by the European Parliament on November 8, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, whom opponents of the Georgian government consider a shadow ruler, is no longer referred to as an oligarch. However, the name and surname of the businessman is still used in the context of “deoligarchization”, and it is written that it is necessary to make legislative decisions regarding his excessive influence.
In addition, the document refers to the persecution of opposition media in the country, political persecution, the procedure for electing a public defender, and that the European Parliament calls on the Georgian authorities to send former president Mikheil Saakashvili from prison for treatment abroad “for humanitarian purposes and for reducing polarization in society”.
On July 13, it became known that the European Commission had postponed the assessment of the fulfillment of the twelve points outlined by the European Union for Georgia until 2023, instead of 2022.
On June 17 the European Commission prepared a report on granting Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for EU membership. It was decided to grant this status to Ukraine and Moldova, while Georgia was first obliged to fulfill the twelve points.
Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova jointly applied for EU membership on 3 March.
On June 9 the European Parliament approved a resolution on violations of media freedom and the problems of journlists’ safety in Georgia.
Briefing by European Commissioner and Georgian PM