New opinion polls in the Eastern partner countries show high trust in the EU
The EU is the most trusted international institution, and the only one trusted by the majority (60%) of respondents in the Eastern Neighbourhood. Two-thirds (70%) of all citizens in the region believe that the relations between the EU and their country are ‘good’. A total of 57% of Eastern Neighbourhood citizens are aware of the EU’s financial support, and 53% of them believe that the support is effective. More than half of the respondents (53%) can also identify at least one specific programme financed by the EU.
These are just some of the findings of the 2020 opinion polls carried out in the six Eastern partner countries by the ‘EU NEIGHBOURS east’ project earlier this year.
Conducted between February and March 2020 in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the surveys assess general perceptions of the EU, the values with which it is associated, relations between the EU and the Eastern partner countries, and awareness of the EU’s financial support and its effectiveness. They also look at citizens’ preferred sources of information, how they feel about the situation in their country and their future expectations.
The field work for the survey took place between February and March 2020 (before COVID-19 crisis) and was based on face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 people in each country.
This is the fifth edition of the annual surveys, with the first wave carried out in 2016. The results from the six countries are presented in national reports and a consolidated regional overview report.
Part of the EU-funded OPEN Neighbourhood programme, the ‘EU NEIGHBOURS east’ project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the European Union and its partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine.
Find out more
EU NEIGHBOURS east – opinion polls
EU NEIGHBOURS east – website
Address of Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili today announced that she pledges to pardon Giorgi Rurua if political actors sign the EU-backed compromise paper and enter the parliament.
"I am surprised by the statement made today by the ruling party that uses my name over and over again without my permission and consent and links it to one specific pardon. They have not understood that such a decision, especially in such a case but not only, should be made without expectations of criticism or praise and only if I deem it necessary. I think I have already shown this through my deeds.
I would like to remind everyone of one simple rule: the power of pardon is the discretion of the President and is not the subject of negotiations. I want to make it clear that the decision to pardon, as I have said more than once, is not subject to pressure, to instructions or demands, whether they may be from the opposition, the ruling party, or anyone else.
According to principle, the President does not speak about pardons and does not disclose motivation. However, because of some continuous appeals on this subject and because of the current situation, I am forced to violate this principle and state clearly my position to stop any speculation.
I think no one will be surprised to hear that for me and for the rest of society, someone with such a well-known past can be called many things, but not a political prisoner. That individual does not fit into any category of pardon by any means, be it righteousness, morality, or politics.
Nevertheless, as I once already took it upon myself, I believe here again that if what’s at stake is the country’s political stalemate, its stability, progress, and future, it is the President’s duty to put the country above her own views and principles.
With that in mind, I am ready to make a decision scandalous also for myself. But I make this decision only on my condition, that such a step must be the last step to end the crisis and pave the way for the country and for Parliament to enter a normal political life and deal with existing challenges without any other distractions.
This means that my decision will be implemented only when, on the one hand, the political parties sign the final document and enter Parliament, and on the other hand, the representatives of the European Union and the United States announce that an agreement has been reached. Once this announcement is done, I will sign the act of pardon within a week", - the President of Georgia Says.
Joint statement of the Spokespersons of the EU High Representative/Vice-President and of the US Department of State on the EU mediation
After nearly six months of negotiations, the citizens of Georgia have made clear that they want the political crisis to end, and for all elected Members to work together in Parliament and address the serious challenges facing the country, including the regional challenges, COVID, and the economic crisis.
With this in mind, the European Union and the United States call on all Members of Georgia’s Parliament to sign the agreement that European Council President Michel will propose today. This is an agreement all Members can sign in good faith rather than a unilateral action that undermines the goal of a broad-based agreement.
The institutional reforms in the agreement represent important progress for Georgia’s democratic development and are of significant benefit for its citizens, helping to create a more independent judiciary, stronger electoral processes, and a Parliament that can better reflect the voices of all people of Georgia.
Accepting this compromise demonstrates courage and a commitment by all parties to put the needs of the citizens of Georgia first, ahead of the interests of any one political party.
EU and MRDI visit first results of GEL 220 million territorial development programme in Georgia’s regions
Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Sigrid Brettel visited six municipalities in Imereti and Guria to see infrastructure projects with a value of 2.5 million GEL. These are part of the first phase of the Government’s GEL 220 million Pilot Integrated Regional Development Grant Programme, of which GEL 186 million comes from EU funding.
The six visited projects are part of the 11 initial projects financed by the PiRDP, which was launched in June 2020. They include:
Rehabilitation of the road and pedestrian bridge to stimulate local business and promote tourism in Labajouri, Vani Municipality, Imereti
Construction of a park in Sachkhere, Sachkhere municipality, Imereti
Development of a tourist and business development service center in the village of Vartsikhe, Baghdati municipality, Imereti
Rehabilitation of a Public Square in Samtredia, Samtredia municipality, Imereti
Construction of 1km or road along the “Tea Route” to develop tourism in the village of Bakhvi, Ozurgeti municipality, Guria
Rehabilitation of 2 road bridges and 100 m long riverbed wall, arrangement of 173 LED lights to develop a recreational area in Chokhatauri, Chokhatauri municipality, Guria.
Press Release of the Delegation of the EU to Georgia
Georgia: Leading MEPs react to the refusal of the political parties to reach an agreement
In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.
Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.
We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;
Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;
Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;
Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.
EU’s Georgia Mediation Fails Again
In the early minutes of March 31, after mediating an eight-hour meeting between the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition parties, Christian Danielsson, EU Council President Charles Michel’s Personal Envoy to mediate Georgia’s crisis, said he was “sad to report that none of the political parties could agree to this solution in whole.”
Danielsson publicized the document he proposed the parties for agreement. While the Georgian Dream and the opposition leaders traded accusations afterward over the failure to strike the deal, it seems the parties largely agreed on the electoral reform, judicial reform, and parliamentary power-sharing points. They failed, however, as expected, to reach a consensus over the release of alleged political prisoners and the issue of future elections.
The opposition’s key demand for snap elections – fiercely rejected by the GD government – was not reflected in the public document. It referred, however, to the prospect for the release and dropping charges against Nika Melia, top opposition leader, by initiating amnesty for June 2019 unrest participants. This passage did not include the release of Giorgi Rurua, pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV shareholder, whom the opposition also regards as a political prisoner.
Danielsson is now expected to update President Michel about the development in the coming days, while it remains unclear whether the EU mediation efforts will continue.
“This is a solution that requires political courage and responsibility,” stated the EU diplomat. Below are the main takeaways of the text Danielsson put forward, that the parties rejected to fully endorse.