Viola von Cramon-Taubadel,
Member of the European Parliament
Lead member for Georgia at the European Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group (DEG)
I start by expressing my support to Georgian media, and especially to those 53 journalists who were brutally attacked by violent groups on July 5th. Georgian Dream’s statements that failed to properly condemn the impunity or even emboldened the perpetrators are a very dangerous sign of backsliding democracy.
Protecting Media, even one as polarized as it is in Georgia, is a fundamental EU value. Other EU values are embodied in its motto “United in Diversity”. Diversity means protecting everyone and everything – culture, traditions, religion but also minorities. Georgia, with all its diversity and regard to the fundamental values of all human beings, is welcome and respected in the EU. I am afraid, after Georgian Dream’s decision to “annul” the April 19th agreement, Georgia is farther from the EU than it was 3 months ago.
As a lead Member of the European Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group (DEG) for Georgia, I was tasked with leading a high-level mission in order to support dialogue between Georgian political parties and share European experience. After our full-scale mission in July was canceled due to the very high number of COVID-19 cases, I decided to hold the meetings at the Georgian Parliament without other members of our delegation.
Right at this moment, Georgian Dream made unexpected and, in my opinion, harmful decision for Georgian interests and withdrew from the agreement. This is in the end why I decided to cancel my meetings at the Georgian Parliament. The April 19th agreement was and is a fundament for the European Parliament’s democracy support activities with the Georgian Parliament.
This is not the first time Georgian Dream breaks its promise. “Annulling” the agreement irreparably breaches trust and renders Georgian Dream unreliable. The excuses for “annulling” the agreement are unpersuasive and unserious. Georgian dream did not fulfill its obligations – appointment of judges without the “ambitious judicial reform” is a good demonstration of that.
This regrettable decision did not benefit Georgia, its people, its international friends. Georgian Dream’s decision benefited the Kremlin. It is clear, that after trust is breached, we cannot go back to “business as usual”. The EU will need to reconsider its relations with the Georgian Government.
It is also true that UNM’s unconstructive actions and refusal to sign the Agreement gave Georgian Dream a convenient pretext. The people of Georgia deserve better, they deserve politicians who put the country’s interests above everything else. Hereby, I commend all opposition parties that stay committed to the agreement and to the obligations they have taken.
Lastly, in this context, the upcoming local elections have become even more significant. The EU stands with the People of Georgia in their struggle for a just and democratic state. This is why it is important for every Georgian to exercise their constitutional rights and vote in the local elections. The EU will do everything possible to makes sure that our observers are on the ground and contribute to the transparent elections.