In overall Georgia made progress in the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Action Plan priorities throughout 2009, but challenges remain in consolidation of democratic institutions, according EU report released on May 12.
The document reports on progress made in the implementation of Georgia’s commitments undertaken under the EU-Georgia ENP Action Plan and it covers 2009.
Report notes progress in areas such as rule of law, reform of the justice system, fight against petty corruption, trade facilitation and improvement of business climate.
“Georgia will need to continue its democratic reform efforts and consolidation of democratic institutions, especially political pluralism and media freedom,” the report reads. “Other major future challenges include poverty reduction, employment and social policies, agricultural development including sanitary and phytosanitary issues and civil service reform.”
The report says that “polarisation of political life” remains “a serious obstacle to genuine political reform and inclusiveness.”
The document says that the May 30 local elections will be “an important indicator” of progress on implementation of Georgia’s international recommendations, as well as a test for the reformed election code, which was emended by the Parliament in December, 2009.
“The amended code does not adequately address potential abuse of administrative resources during elections,” the report says.
On last year’s lengthy street protest rallies by the opposition, report notes about low profile, which the authorities kept “marking progress from similar events in 2007”, when hundreds were injured after riot police dispersed anti-government demonstrations.
The report, however, also notes about the cases of attacks on opposition activists, which “were not thoroughly investigated by the government and no perpetrators were identified or brought to justice.”
“During the demonstrations some political opponents were arrested and sentenced on alleged politically motivated charges. Thorough investigation of all these alleged crimes and charges would be a solid indicator of the improved independence of the judiciary,” the report says.
The report says that although the Parliament “took careful note” of the Public Defender’s reports in 2009, “the real impact indicator of the Public Defender’s Office will be the actual implementation of the Ombudsman's recommendations by the relevant government bodies.”
According to the report overcrowding in prisons remain among areas of concern and it also criticizes amendment of the code of administrative violations made in July, 2009, which increased administrative imprisonment from 30 to 90 days. The amendment “is not fully in compliance with international human rights standards,” the report reads.
On media, the report says that broadcasters remain “an issue of major concern.” “The television environment is reported to be highly polarised and biased,” the document reads. It also notes problems with lack of transparency in respect of broadcast media ownership. The report says that granting of nation-wide satellite broadcasting to TV stations (it Tbilisi-based Maestro TV, which obtained such license) “only had a limited impact, since the high prices of satellite licenses constitute a problem for opposition-minded TV channels which struggle for funding and revenues from advertisements.”
The report notes Georgia’s “determination to fulfil key EU's recommendations” on Tbilisi’s preparedness for starting negotiations with EU on deep and comprehensive free trade agreement.
“As a result, some progress was achieved, notably the preparation of the first drafts of the necessary strategic reform plans,” the report says.