13 April 2024,   16:21
The EU commended Georgia on its active engagement to the EU CSDP missions and operations since 2014 - Association Council

The EU commended Georgia on its active engagement to the EU CSDP missions and operations since 2014, reads the joint press statement following the 8th Association Council meeting between the EU and Georgia.

“The Association Council reiterated the EU’s commitment to strengthening EU-Georgia relations, emphasising the importance of fully exploiting the potential of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, and the effective implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agenda 2021-2027. The Association Council recalled that the effective implementation of the Association Agreement and its DCFTA, linked to the broader process of regulatory approximation and related necessary reforms, contributes to establishing conditions for enhanced economic and trade relations with the EU leading to Georgia’s further gradual economic integration in the European Union Internal Market.

The EU recognised that Georgia carried out significant reforms in a number of areas and successfully approximated its legislation with the EU acquis in many sectors as noted in the European Commission report on Georgia of 8 November 2023. It was noted that the objective of becoming an EU member, strongly supported by Georgia’s people, the Government and across political spectrum has been a key driver in this respect. The EU urged all political actors in Georgia to demonstrate constructive cross-party cooperation and dialogue, overcome polarisation and refrain from actions that could further deepen the political tensions and hamper the country’s reform agenda. The Association Council commended Georgia’s vibrant civil society and underlined the importance of inclusive, meaningful and systematic engagement with civil society in the policymaking processes.

Emphasising the importance of fighting disinformation, anti-EU rhetoric and foreign information manipulation and interference, the EU called on Georgia to take meaningful steps in this regard, while noting the efforts made by the Government.

The Association Council stressed that the full independence, accountability and impartiality of all State institutions need to be ensured, in line with European standards and the recommendations of the Venice Commission, in particular all judicial, prosecutorial, anti-corruption and monetary institutions. The EU underlined the need to further improve the implementation of parliamentary oversight notably of the security services.

The Association Council recalled that the EU and Georgia are bound by a joint determination to further strengthen democracy and the rule of law in our societies. The EU noted the work undertaken to improve the legislative framework and the overall capacity and organisation of the justice system. The EU stressed that further efforts were needed to pursue a comprehensive judicial reform in particular to ensure the full independence, accountability and impartiality of all judicial and prosecutorial institutions.

The Association Council noted the reforms undertaken to improve the electoral framework and called on Georgia to finalise electoral reform well ahead of the upcoming elections, in line with the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR recommendations, and to ensure a free, fair and competitive electoral process. The EU welcomed Georgia’s invitation of the OSCE-ODIHR long-term observers ahead of the parliamentary elections of 2024.

The Association Council took note of the adoption of the second National Strategy for the Protection of Human Rights in Georgia 2022-2030 and the Human Rights Action Plan 2024-2026.

The Association Council welcomed the work undertaken to ensure gender equality, to fight gender-based and domestic violence, as well as the work on legislation related to the European Court of Human Rights judgments and the appointment of the Public Defender. The EU underlined the need to continue this work and ensure enhanced respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including guaranteeing freedom of expression, assembly and media and ensure the full independence and effectiveness of human rights institutions.

The Association Council noted the work undertaken on deoligarchisation, avoiding the excessive influence of vested interests in economic, political and public life in Georgia and stressed the need to implement the current Action Plan efficiently through a multi-sectorial, systemic approach. The EU welcomed the creation of the Anti-Corruption Bureau and stressed the importance to ensure the Bureau operates independently and effectively. The EU underlined that further efforts are needed to tackle all forms of corruption, including as part of deoligarchisation efforts. The EU welcomed Georgia’s continuous fulfilment of the visa liberalisation benchmarks and its actions to address European Commission recommendations.

The Association Council underlined the strong expectation for Georgia to substantially increase its alignment with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy positions and restrictive measures and called on Georgia to progress towards full alignment. The EU welcomed Georgia’s pro-active engagement and constructive cooperation on preventing circumvention of EU sanctions against Russia.

The EU commended Georgia on its active engagement to the EU CSDP missions and operations since 2014 and encouraged it to further contribute to EU CSDP missions and operations; the Association Council also discussed possibilities for further cooperation in the security and defence field. The EU expressed its willingness to further support Georgia in addressing the challenges it faces as a consequence of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and strengthen its resilience through increased cooperation on cyber and hybrid threats, as well as support to the Georgian Defence Forces through the European Peace Facility. Georgia expressed willingness to launch cooperation with the EU specialised agencies as well as participate in PESCO projects”, - reads the statement.