PACE President Commends Georgia’s True European Aspirations

Ending his official visit to Georgia, Pedro Agramunt, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), commended Georgia’s European aspirations and commitment to Council of Europe values.

“During my official meetings with the Georgian authorities, I felt a genuine and heartfelt desire to further European integration and commit to the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” President Agramunt said. “Georgia has been a member of our organization for 17 years; during this time it has made considerable progress in terms of democratic reforms and strengthening state institutions. I am sure that with the recently launched Action Plan 2016-2019, Georgia will continue on this positive path and reach its reform objectives”.

In his discussions, President Agramunt focused in particular on the forthcoming parliamentary election. “With all my interlocutors I raised the recent reports of violent attacks against political activists. All acts of violence should be firmly condemned and fully investigated. All parties should refrain from provocative acts which could lead to further tension. I was reassured by the authorities that they would devote even greater energy to adopting and implementing measures aimed at preventing further violence in order to deliver to Georgian citizens the fair, democratic and peaceful environment they deserve,” he said.

When discussing the forthcoming elections, President Agramunt also raised the issue of electoral reform. While welcoming that some progress has been achieved with regard to redrawing election districts, the PACE President noted that the majority and the opposition had not been able to agree on a new electoral system in time for the October elections. “The new Parliament will have an important mission to find a common agreement on the new system before the 2020 elections,” he concluded.

Trials against former officials, as well as the recent judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Merabishvili vs. Georgia were also discussed. “I made it clear to my interlocutors that there should be no impunity for corruption offences and human rights violations. However, investigations and trials should be conducted in a transparent, efficient and independent manner, from the outset to the completion. The recent judgement of the ECtHR highlighted some issues of concern and I encouraged the authorities to address them effectively and to carry out appropriate investigations”.

Turning to the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, and South Ossetia, Georgia, the PACE President reiterated that the Assembly fully supported Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He praised the Georgian authorities' current policy, which was based on increasing confidence building measures and reducing political tensions. “Rebuilding trust between the sides is of utmost importance and I welcomed some positive steps taken, including opening the doors of educational institutions and medical centers to all. I am, nonetheless, concerned by some recent developments which do not help this process, notably the murder of a Georgian citizen on 19 May near the administrative boundary line in the village of Kurcha.”

Finally, President Agramunt welcomed the commitment made by the Georgia Prime Minister to put in place the necessary conditions for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in the near future.

During his official visit, PACE President met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili; Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze; Speaker of Parliament, David Usupashvili; as well as members of the delegation of Georgia to the PACE.

In Tbilisi, President Agramunt also participated in the 25th Annual Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, during which he met with the OSCE PA President, Ilkka Kanerva, and addressed the Assembly at its opening plenary session. In his speech, the PACE President praised the excellent cooperation existing between the two assemblies and highlighted some topics on which this collaboration should be strengthened, including the fight against terrorism and the search for a common response to the migration and refugee crisis.

Vazha Tavberidze

11 July 2016 18:19