Thank you, Chair
I would like to make 3 points in my capacity as the Chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus (DSCA) and Co-Chair of the EU-Georgia PAC.
First, on the implementation of the Association Agreement. Georgia has an impressive reform record. Of course, further approximation is still needed in some areas, like labour law, environment protection, fight against discrimination of vulnerable groups. It is also true that Georgia is a young democracy, where the rule of law must be further consolidated.
But let us keep in mind the broader picture: over the years, Georgia has secured a special place among our Eastern Partners. I propose that next we should focus on the acceleration of our market integration, as it would bring benefits to our enterprises and consumers and will have a positive impact on Georgian economy.
Second, Georgia has shown the way, by tackling vigorously the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of emergency has been imposed since March 21st. It has not led, as was the case in some EU countries, to unjustified restrictions on media freedom or individual liberties.
Because of the pandemic, the discussions of the constitutional amendments under the March 8th agreement have been temporarily postponed.
Yesterday, I talked to my Georgian counterpart, David Songulashvili, who assured that the discussions will resume as soon as the state of emergency is lifted, on May 22nd.
I would like to recognize the Presidential pardon of Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili as a positive step towards easing tensions between the political parties. I call on all political parties, especially opposition, to continue constructive cooperation in pre-election months. I would like to urge all my colleagues, in both Parliaments, to show responsibility, restraint and fairness, keeping in mind the greater interests of Georgia’s chosen European path.
Finally, I would like to remind that the DSCA and the Standing Rapporteur on Georgia are the competent EP bodies that issue official statements on the state-of-play of EU-Georgia relations. For those of you who wish to make statements, please do it in your personal capacity, without sowing confusion. And, please, check your facts before making some inflammatory comments! We do not need a new epidemic of fake news.