EU assesses progress in relations with Georgia: new country report released
The EU and Georgia have made progress in the past year in deepening and broadening EU-Georgia relations within the Eastern Partnership framework. This is one of the main conclusions of the Country Report on how EU-Georgia relations evolved between 1 January and 31 December 2011 released by the European Commission this month. The report includes recommendations on how Georgia can step up the implementation of the AP.
Negotiations on the Association Agreement were constructive and made significant headway during the year, with Georgia having made “sufficient progress in fulfilling the key recommendations necessary for
launching negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA),” the report says in particular, leading to a decision by the EU to launch the DCFTA negotiations.
Georgia has also advanced in implementing the Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements, which entered into force in March 2011, showing great interest in launching a visa dialogue as the next step towards visa liberalisation.
Among other achievements, the report singles out Georgia’s progress in the fight against corruption and continued political reforms. However, it says, “questions remained about the fairness of the election environment,” including “ambiguities in the electoral dispute mechanisms, equal access to the media and insufficiently regulated use by the ruling party of state resources for political purposes.”
The reform and further liberalisation of the criminal justice sector continued in accordance with the agreed plans and programmes, the report points out. However, it cites “cases of excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies,” which have not been brought to justice.
“The EU remained committed to and continued to fully support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Georgia,” the report says, citing the role of the EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia at the Geneva Discussions, as well as the input of the EU Monitoring Mission into stabilising the situation in the region. “For its part, the government of Georgia took important steps in implementing its strategy for engagement towards the breakaway territories,” the report says.
The report comes up with a number of recommendations, in particular inviting Georgia to:
• Ensure free and fair parliamentary elections;
• Enhance its engagement policy towards breakaway regions through pragmatic cooperation with de facto authorities and the provision of financial resources for engagement;
• Step up constructive engagement in the Geneva International Discussions;
• Continue to improve the living conditions of all groups of internally displaced
• Continue the reform of the justice system and strengthen the independence and efficiency of the judiciary etc.
The Georgia Progress Report is part of a set of documents released by the EU in the framework of its annual assessment of the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The package also incudes reports on progress in relations between the EU and its other Neighbours in the East (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine), the Report on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) activities in 2011, which takes stock of the progress in implementation of the EaP, and the Roadmap to the autumn 2013 EaP Summit, which sets out the objectives to be pursued in the near future and the expected achievements. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Eastern Partnership – activities in 2011 Report