EU Top Diplomat Concerned over Georgia’s ‘Stalled Judiciary, Electoral Reforms’

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, on December 22 told eight Georgian opposition politicians he shares their “concerns about the stalled judiciary and electoral reforms.”

He stressed that these “reforms go to the essence of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement,” in a letter responding to a December 9 appeal of the politicians, signatories of the EU-brokered April 19 deal.

The High Representative placed “primary responsibility” on the Georgian Dream government to pursue reforms and de-escalation but stressed that cooperation between the opposition and the authorities is also important.

“Timely adoption and implementation of inclusive reforms remains the best chance of tangible progress in further building Georgia’s democracy and resilience, and ending the damaging polarisation currently affecting the Georgian political system,” the top EU diplomat added.

The High Representative asserted that special attention should be paid to the justice sector and democratic reforms.

Recalling the Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit of 15 December, the chief EU diplomat stressed that the scope and depth of Georgia’s cooperation with the European Union “will continue to be shaped amongst other aspects, by the pace and quality of reforms.”

“The EU’s conditionality and incentive-based approach (“more-for-more” and “less-for-less”) will continue to benefit most those partners committed to implementing reforms,” he highlighted, adding this was a clear message of the EaP Summit.

Opposition politicians that addressed the EU’s top diplomat were lawmakers Badri Japaridze of Lelo, Giorgi Vashadze of Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Khatuna Samnidze of Republican Party, Iago Khvichia of New Political Center – Girchi, independent MPs Salome Samadashvili and Grigol Vashadze, and former MP Zurab Japaridze of Girchi – More Freedom.

They highlighted their concerns over Georgia’s recent controversial political developments, ahead of the EaP Summit.

The signatories, among others, stressed the ruling Georgian Dream’s withdrawal from the April-19 agreement, as well as on criminal prosecutions against opposition leaders – United National Movement’s Nika Melia and Lelo’s Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze.

Even before declaring the agreement as null and void, they argued, the GD undermined the deal with “actions, which were contrary both, to the spirit and letter of the agreement.”

The signatories also cited continued judicial appointments, stalled judiciary reforms, incomplete implementation of the electoral reforms, and “selective reading” of the agreement on amnesty law pertaining to the violent dispersal of protesters on June 20, 2019, as examples.

Besides High Representative Borrell, the letter was addressed to European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi.

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