Tamar Khulordava and Sajjad Karim, September 20, 2017. Photo: parliament.ge
Members of the European Parliament and the Parliament of Georgia gathered for the fifth session of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee in Tbilisi on September 19-20.
The Association Committee, which provides parliamentary oversight over the implementation of the Association Agreement, was co-chaired by Tamar Khulordava, chairperson of the parliamentary committee for European integration, and Sajjad Karim, MEP from the United Kingdom.
On September 20, the Committee adopted a joint statement, endorsed by five votes from the EP side (zero against and zero abstentions) and 7 votes from the Georgian side (zero against and zero abstentions).
The Committee, the joint statement said, welcomed “the continuous deepening of EU-Georgia relations.”
It also expressed “satisfaction” with the European course of Georgia, underlined “the European aspirations of Georgia” and recalled that pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, “Georgia may apply to become a member of the European Union, provided it adheres to the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms, human and minority rights and ensures the rule of law.”
The Committee also underlined that EU assistance “should reflect the ambitious goals” of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, and encouraged the Commission to further enhance its assistance, “including through introduction of a new assistance instrument relevant for implementation of the Association Agreement taking into account best Instrument for Pre-Accession’s (IPA) experience.”
The European and Georgian parliamentarians touched upon the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit as well, calling for “an ambitious agenda for providing tangible results to citizens for the next two years,” and taking the view that the Summit’s declaration “should reflect the different aspirations of Eastern Partnership’s countries for their European course.”
The joint statement covered domestic politics as well, including the ongoing constitutional reform process, with the Committee members underlining “the importance of inclusiveness of all stakeholders and the need to seek the widest possible consensus across political forces for this major constitutional revision.”
The parliamentarians also commented on the “abduction” of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, urging the Georgian authorities “to pursue investigation and the judicial proceedings, in a thorough and effective manner, in order to clear up this case.”
They also welcomed the Georgian Government’s decision to comply with the ECHR ruling on the Rustavi 2 television company and pointed at the “continuous duty for audiovisual regulatory authorities of Georgia to ensure citizens have access to a diversity of views.”
The Committee also reiterated its “firm support” to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and emphasized that the Association Agreement covers the entire territory of Georgia.
The Committee said it “supports” the engagement of the Government of Georgia in pursuing its policy towards a peaceful conflict resolution, and praised its efforts “to maintain any possible forms of dialogue and inclusion with the populations of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, in order to foster people-to-people contacts and build up confidence.”
The next meeting of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee will be held on March 22, 2018, at the European Parliament in Brussels.