- Ivanishvili-related amendment rejected;
- Calls on EU to recognize Abkhazia, S.Ossetia as ‘occupied territories’;
- ‘Enter more extensively into constructive dialogue with opposition’;
- ‘Georgia - one of the best-performing partners in Eastern Partnership’;
- ‘Further improvement needed in justice system, labor reforms’
MEPs in plenary session in Strasbourg, November 17. Photo: European Parliament website
European Parliament adopted on November 17 a resolution calling on the European Union to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “occupied territories”, hailing Georgia’s “significant progress” in democratic reforms and also calling on the authorities “to further develop a democratic environment for freedom of speech.”
The resolution is based on a report by Polish MEP Krzysztof Lisek from the group of the European People's Party and contains set of recommendations to EU’s key institutions, including its diplomatic service, European External Action Service (EEAS), on the negotiations of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. The resolution covers areas ranging from Georgia-Russia conflict to economy, human rights and democracy.
A day before the resolution was passed, President Saakashvili said on November 16, that the document was “very important” for Georgia and particularly stressed on the part of the resolution which is calling for recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as occupied territories.
“Tomorrow the European Parliament will vote for the resolution on Georgia where the key issue is related to the introduction of a term ‘occupied’ in the European political vocabulary,” Saakashvili said.
Hannes Swoboda, Austrian MEP from the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, was initially proposing an amendment number five to the draft, which was expressing concern over “the revocation of the Georgian citizenship of Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Georgian businessman, after he announced plans to form a political party to stand in parliamentary elections in 2012, effectively barring him from political activities in Georgia and from financing political parties.”
Just before the voting MEP Swoboda told colleagues that this amendment proposed by him was “based on false information” and wanted to amend it with following formulation, which was no longer mentioning specifically Ivanishvili and his citizenship issue: “[calls on] the Georgian authorities to refrain from using disproportionate political pressure against the political opponents of the government, reminds that competitive and effective multi-party system is essential for the consolidation of democracy in Georgia.”
After this oral amendment was rejected by majority of MEPs present, Swoboda withdrew his initially proposed amendment number five, saying that the report by MEP Lisek was “excellent and I do not think there should be anything in that report that is based on false information.”
Another amendment to the draft, which was also rejected during the vote, was calling on the Georgian authorities to “address all the issues raised in the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the War in Georgia (Tagliavini report) and fully to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in the ongoing preliminary examination.”
The resolution recommends key EU institutions to “recognise Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia as occupied territories.”
It also recommends European Council, European Commission and EEAS for intensifying talks with Russia “to ensure that it fulfils unconditionally” all the provisions of the August 12, 2008 ceasefire and also to call on Russia “to reverse its recognition” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and “to end the occupation of those Georgian territories.”
Since the August, 2008 war the Georgian authorities have been actively lobbying in western capitals for this type of resolution, that would refer to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as occupied regions, describing the effort as part of “de-occupation policy”. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as regions “occupied by the Russian Federation” in July.
In May, 2010 a draft of European Parliament’s resolution on South Caucasus contained the term “occupied”, but it was removed from the final draft. In January, 2011 the European Parliament passed a resolution on the Black Sea region which contained a wording: “occupied South Ossetia and Abkhazia”.
The November 17 resolution of the European Parliament also notes that “ethnic cleansing and forcible demographic changes have taken place in the areas under the effective control of the occupying force.”
Welcoming the Russia-Georgia WTO deal, the resolution recommends the key EU institutions to call on Georgia and Russia “to engage in direct talks, without preconditions” on other issues as well, with mediation if needed. It also says that such talks “should complement, not replace, the existing Geneva process.”
The resolution expresses concern over the terrorist attacks in Georgia – reference to series of blasts in Georgia which Tbilisi said were masterminded by a Russian military officer based in Abkhazia. The resolution calls on Georgia and Russia to cooperate in investigating those cases and also “to de-escalate rhetoric about bombings.”
Justice and Freedom
The resolution says that Georgia has made a “significant progress… in the areas of democratic reforms.” It, however, also recommends the key EU institutions to call on the Georgian authorities “to enter more extensively into a constructive political dialogue with opposition forces and further develop a democratic environment for freedom of speech, especially the accessibility of public media for all political parties.”
It says that democracy, the rule of law and human rights “are essential” to take negotiating process on Association Agreement forward.
“Georgia is one of the best-performing partners of the Eastern Partnership in adopting reforms, although problems still persist as regards their implementation,” the resolution reads. “Further improvement is needed regarding reforms in the justice system, and labour rights, women’s rights and integration of minorities.”
It also notes the need “to further improve the physical conditions in prisons and detention centres.”
The resolution calls in the EU institutions to “recognise Georgia as a European state” and to base ongoing negotiations with Georgia on a European perspective. It says that talks on deep and comprehensive free trade agreement should start as soon as possible.
The resolution welcomes law, adopted by the Georgian Parliament this summer, on the registration of religious organisations and “affirmative action measures adopted by the Georgian government in the field of education, aiming at a better integration of national minorities.”
The resolution also calls on the EU institutions to encourage the Georgian authorities to adopt and implement effective anti-discrimination legislation, including provisions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.