European Union External Action

Georgia: Remarks by the HR/VP Josep Borrell at the EP Plenary on the report on the implementation of the Association Agreement

Brussels, 14/09/2020 - 15:36, UNIQUE ID: 200916_10

Opening remarks

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Madam President, honourable members, As you know very well, Georgia is a very close partner in our neighbourhood and subscribes to an ambitious Association Agreement with a deep and comprehensive free-trade area underpinned by common values, shared ownership and responsibility.

Our relations have been maturing: from the human rights agenda to connectivity, security, cooperation and academic exchanges under Erasmus+. Our norms on standards are gradually aligning, making real improvements in the lives of Georgian citizens.

We are looking forward to continuing to cooperate with Georgia, to agree joint priorities in an Association Agenda for post-2020, strengthening our cooperation, for instance, to fight abuses in the visa-free regime. And I am also confident that our Eastern Partnership in March 2021 will devise a compelling vision for our multilateral relations.

Our solidarity to support Georgia in mitigating the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 is steadfast - more than €180 million in bilateral funds and €150 million in macro-financial assistance. Assistance remains conditional on progress made.

Let me have a look at the domestic challenges and opportunities of this country, and let me make reference to three important issues: the electoral context; the justice reform; and the conflicts.

This is a crucial month ahead of the October parliamentary elections in Georgia. In March, the political parties reached a historic agreement, co-facilitated by the European Union Delegation. It created a new electoral system more conducive to inclusive, credible and transparent elections. And now we expect effective implementation of these laws and respect for the highest democratic standards.

In the justice sector, it is important for the Georgian parliament to revisit the selection procedure for Supreme Court judges, which undermines a transparent, genuine, merit-based nomination process, as you mentioned in the report. It is critical to uphold the highest standards of ethics and integrity in the judiciary.

Finally, let me also reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. I agree with you that the continuing borderisation is completely unacceptable. We have seen a deterioration of security along the administrative boundary line with the breakaway region of South Ossetia, such as in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area.

I am also very concerned about the continuous closure of crossing points, complicating medical treatment, contacts and access to livelihoods. We are constantly reiterating our concerns to Russia in bilateral and multilateral fora and we will continue doing so on behalf of the stability of Georgia that deserves peaceful borders with all its neighbours.

Thank you for your attention. I’m looking forward to our discussion.

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Closing remarks

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Thank you, Madam President.

Honourable Members [of the European Parliament], you are right that these are crucial times for Georgia to demonstrate the maturity of its democracy. I have also been in Georgia in difficult times, much more difficult than now.

The country is demonstrating democratic strength and economic development, and I think that we have to welcome that the European Parliament will be stepping up its cooperation with the Georgian Parliament after the next elections.

We will also not shy away from reminding Georgia of the need to deliver on the full reform agenda.

The problems at their borders should not be an excuse for not solving the problems inside the country that only the Georgian people can solve.

The European Union, through our Association Agreement, will continue supporting Georgia in this endeavour.

Thank you.

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