‘Uphill, but an essential and a worthy battle’: Michel welcomes the Eastern Partnership Civil Society AssemblyThursday, 02 December 2021 09:28
Сivil society have played and is playing a crucial role in making progress in the critical areas of the Eastern Partnership, including political cooperation, economic recovery, and democratic reforms, said President Charles Michel addressing the participants of the Civil Society Assembly.
The 13th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF), ‘Road to recovery: fostering reform and resilience for a stronger Eastern Partnership’ is taking place from 30 November to 2 December bringing together online more than 300 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and decision-makers from the Eastern Partner countries and the EU.
We have advanced our partnership in spite of challenges ranging from economic crises to armed conflicts and the COVID pandemic,” said Charles Michel. “You must continue to step forward and make your voices heard.”
The President added that the EU will insist in tackling challenges facing the Eastern Partnership: “Strengthening democracy, fighting corruption, defending the rule of law, guaranteeing a free media, and countering disinformation – this is an uphill battle, but an essential and a worthy battle”.
The Assembly will prepare its recommendations in the run-up of the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit (15-16 December 2021).
On 16 November, President of the European Council Charles Michel called on Azerbaijan and Armenia for urgent de-escalation and full ceasefire following a new escalation of the situation in Nagorno Karabakh.
Michel had two separate phone calls with Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and with President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.
“Challenging situation in region – EU is committed to work with partners to overcome tensions for a prosperous and stable South Caucasus,” President Michel said on Twitter.
Statement by president Charles Michel on the political situation in Georgia: "I have taken note of the decision by the Georgian Dream as regards the 19 April Agreement. This agreement continues to offer a European way towards building a stronger democracy and rule of law in Georgia in the interest of the Georgian people. I have equally taken note of the continued non-signature by United National Movement of the agreement.
I remain convinced that this agreement is the best way to advance a reform agenda which would strengthen the democratic institutions of Georgia and help bring about prosperity, jobs and growth - all much needed to the benefit of the people of Georgia.
I see no alternative to continued in-depth electoral and judicial reforms, and free and fair local elections.
I call on all parties to put the interests of the citizens first and to commit to advancing Georgia’s political discourse within the framework of the country’s democratic institutions. Consultations with a number of political actors in Georgia are starting. Yesterday I met with President Zourabichvili to discuss the situation and EU-Georgia relations".
Today, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a face-to-face meeting with Charles Michel, President of the European Council, who is visiting Georgia as part of the Georgia's European Way international conference in Batumi. Irakli Garibashvili thanked Charles Michel for visiting Georgia and pointed out that the recent high-level visits demonstrate the excellence of the relations between Georgia and the EU and underline Georgia's importance to the EU.
Georgia remains the EU's reliable ally and a crucial stronghold of democracy in a geopolitically complex region, the Prime Minister emphasized.
The meeting underscored Georgia's positive role in the Caucasus. President Michel singled out the Georgian Prime Minister's successful mediation resulting in the release of 15 Armenian citizens and important maps of mined territories handed over to the Azerbaijani side. Irakli Garibashvili reaffirmed his commitment to continuing active engagement in the process of dialogue and to making Georgia a platform for negotiations in order to facilitate the peaceful resolution of the present conflicts and to ensure peace and stability in the region.
The Prime Minister, together with the President of the European Council, discussed the importance of EU engagement in the Caucasus Region and the significance of the political agreement achieved in Georgia through Charles Michel's personal involvement. The ruling team has implemented the agreement's provisions, and this process continues, the Head of Government said and added that, unfortunately, most of the opposition have yet to sign Charles Michel's agreement, and that is a major obstacle crippling the stabilization and pacification of the political situation.
During the face-to-face meeting with Charles Michel, the Prime Minister also emphasized that the Government's major task is to maintain stability and peace in Georgia, a stance also shared by the President of the European Council.
The conversation also touched on the upcoming local self-government elections. According to the Prime Minister, the authorities are motivated to ensure peaceful and transparent elections. Garibashvili also addressed President Michel with a request to delegate as many EU observers as possible, to prevent everyone from engaging, for any reason, in speculations concerning the elections. The meeting also emphasized that Georgia has already invited all international election observer organizations to the upcoming elections in October.
One of the topics of the conversation between the Prime Minister and President Michel was electoral reform. According to Irakli Garibashvili, the ruling team, with the opposition's engagement, has developed a near perfect electoral reform. The Prime Minister reaffirmed the authorities' commitment to continuing the ongoing judicial reform. As a result of the years-long court reform, considerable progress has been achieved, though it is not enough, the reason why the process will continue to be successfully finalized, Irakli Garibashvili said.
Press Service of the Government Administration
2021 Batumi International Conference will kick off today in a hybrid format due to the ongoing pandemic.
The main spotlight is on the upgraded level of cooperation between the three EU Associated Partners – Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – recently formalized as the Associated Trio, the organizers said.
The three Partners are determined to accelerate the reforms envisaged by their respective Association Agreements with the European Union that contain provisions on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas and prepare the next stage of their European integration.
“The panel will discuss possible interests of the EU to engage further in the enhanced integration process with the three Eastern European partners. Also, deliberate more on the European enthusiasm of the three countries while also reflecting on how the new format will complement the future of the Eastern Partnership,” the statement reads.
Charles Michel and the presidents of Moldova and Ukraine will participate in today’s Conference.
The first meeting of the Delegation was held with the Speaker, Kakha Kutchava. The current political processes in the country were discussed at the meeting. Emphasis was placed on the importance of enforcing the Charles Michel document, electoral and judicial reform.
Within the 2-day visit, the PACE members hold the meetings with the Parliamentary Delegation to PACE, Chair of the Legal Issues Committee Anri Okhanashvili, Chair of the Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee David Songulashvili, Majority Leader Irakli Kobakhidze, Parliamentary opposition and the members of the Faction “Lelo – Partnership for Georgia”.
The PACE Delegation is composed of Titus Corlățean – Romanian “Socialist Democratic Party”, Claude Kern – French “Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe”, and Bas Klein - Deputy Head of the Monitoring Department at PACE.
The Georgian political parties signed A way ahead for Georgia, a compromise document submitted to the parties by the European Council President Charles Michel, at the Orbeliani Palace on April 19.
Davit Bakradze, Aleko Elisashvili, Badri Japaridze, Zurab Japaridze, Mamuka Khazaradze, Vakhtang Megrelishvili, Shalva Papuashvili, Salome Samadashvili, Khatuna Samnidze, Archil Talakvadze, and Giorgi Vashadze have signed the document.
Khatuna Samnidze, Davit Bakradze and Salome Samadashvili have made signatures individually, as the bloc National Movement – Strength in Unity and the European Georgia party did not join the compromise paper.
The EU and US Ambassadors Carl Hartzell and Kelly Degnan attended the signing ceremony. European Council President Charles Michel joined the event virtually.
President Michel presented a new document to the political parties on April 18. According to a new document, if the ruling party wins less than 43 per cent of electoral support in local polls, early parliamentary elections will be called in 2022.
Joint statement of the Spokespersons of the EU High Representative/Vice-President and of the US Department of State on the EU mediationMonday, 19 April 2021 11:42
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.
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.
Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze is grateful to the European Council President Charles Michel and special envoy Christian Danielsson for their mediation leadership.
“Even though the opposition was not ready to sign, we’ll guide judicial and electoral reforms by Danielsson’s proposal. We leave doors open for parties to join,” Talakvadze tweeted.
The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the opposition could not agree on a solution, Christian Danielsson briefed reporters following the hours-long joint meeting between GD and the opposition on Tuesday.
The opposition failed to provide any evidence on elections fraud. But, we showed evidence that the radical opposition forged the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) results”, Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairman of the Georgian Dream party, said after a joint meeting mediated by EU mediator Christian Danielsson.
“Today, the international partners presented a document in which there was no record, either directly or indirectly, on any snap elections,” he added.
Kobakhidze stated that the document by Danielsson included GD’s proposal on Nika Melia’s case. “In particular, in case of paying bail, Georgian Dream pledged to ensure application of amnesty bill in the June 20th case. However, the opposition rejected this solution,” he said.
Christian Danielsson, a personal envoy of the European Council President Charles Michel, said after the talks today that none of the parties agreed on a solution.
Besides, EU mediator Christian Danielson published the proposals made to political parties.
Danielsson said he proposed a solution to the parties that puts the country interest first, but none of the political parties could agree to it. EU mediator has already left for Brussels.
Danielsson returned to Tbilisi for the second time on Sunday to help the opposition and the government reaching an agreement. He first arrived in Tbilisi on March 12. After a five-day mediation that ended with no result, he left the country.
Charles Michel announced on March 22 that Christian Danielsson would travel back to Georgia to help the parties to agree.
The Georgian opposition parties that won seats in the Georgian Parliament of the 10th Convocation believe the 2020 parliamentary elections were a fraud. They have been demanding repeat parliamentary elections and the release of the United National Movement Chair, Nika Melia, and the co-founder of the TV channel Mtavari Arkhi Giorgi Rurua.