European MPs’ Visit to Georgia
06 June, 2013
European MPs’ Visit to Georgia
On June 4, at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, the European Parliament members summed up their 2-day visit to Georgia at the final press conference.
They were mainly members of Liberal, Social-Democratic and European People’s Parties. According to the first speaker, the primary goal of their visit was to observe the situation after the elections of October 4 - “first peaceful transfer of power, which is very important for the development of the country and after 5 months’ time you will
have a presidential elections,” - Libor Roucek pointed out.
During their visit, they met with important representatives of Georgian side: President Saakashvili, Prime Minister Ivanishvili, Speaker of the Parliament, the leaders of the opposition, ministers of Justice, Penitentiary and Corrective System, Internal Affairs, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, also the Ombudsmen as well as representatives of civil society and of media.
“We found out the following: in all cases among the representatives of the ruling coalition or the opposition, the government and the civil society, there is a strong will for the European integration,” Mr. Roucek stressed. “There is a strong consensus on this question and in this context, in November, there will be a summit on the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius and there is a real chance for Georgia to initiate the association agreement and deep as well as comprehensive free trade agreement. We assured the Deputy Foreign Minister, the President, the Prime Minister and other representatives of Georgian side that regardless of our belonging to different parties at the European Parliament, we fully support this aspiration. “
He added that important thing for citizens is the visa liberalization issue. “It is no secret that we will support Georgia till the end of the process so that Georgians can travel to EU without visas and enjoy a visa free regime.”
One of the issues of discussion was the bordering – fencing of the administrative border. “We fully support Georgia’s territorial integrity and we are of the view that so-called bordering is a hindering matter and it does not help normal citizens living alongside this administrative border,” Mr. Roucek added. “For the bigger question, that is, an issue of status, we have the Geneva Process. But we understand this situation as a humanitarian question, because these people are not criminals or terrorists; they are just villagers who have fields or cemeteries beyond these administrative lines. Everything possible should be done to ease the situation; not to make it more difficult for those people.“
It was also mentioned that after a transfer of power when the political climate becomes more pluralistic, it raises tensions in every councountry. Mr. Roucek said that it is important to effect these changes through a dialogue, in a constructive manner. “In our view, sometimes there is too much tension. Consensus is necessary for the major strategic matters for Georgia.” He positively assessed the legislative body’s activities. “As far as the work of the parliament is concerned, there is this cooperation between majority and minority. This should be taken as a positive example and conduct dialogue not only on strategic issues but also on internal reforms, judiciary, economy and many other aspects. “
Their recommendation for the government as well as the opposition is ‘to cool down the rhetoric and heated arguments’ and work for the good of the country.
Mrs. Ulrike Lunacek another member of the European Parliament was the second speaker who talked specifically about the May 17 events: “We did not expect such violence – none of us. We welcome the fact that the government as well as the opposition condemned the violence. The offenders should be brought to justice. We also see that there is a certain rise of hate-speech not only against the sexual minorities but also against other minority groups such as religious and ethnic minorities. I think the best way out is for the government and the politicians to work according to the highest European standards directed against the hate-speech and discrimination. We welcome that there will be a bill of anti-discrimination that should concern sexual orientation, ethnic and religious minority groups, and also people with disabilities and other groups.”
One of the questions was about the EU mission’s desirable increasing role with respect to the so-called bordering. Mr. Roucek pointed out that they talked to the ministries and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told them that the ambassadors accredited in Georgia will be sent to the border line and together with other people in charge, they will work to raise the awareness of the people as this situation does not help anybody.
Mr. Krzysztof Lisek from the European People’s Party answered the question about his meeting with ex-Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili. He said that they are no judges and it is not in there competence to say who is wrong and who is not.. Their only goal was a humanitarian one; namely, to make sure that Merabishvili is kept in normal conditions and he has an opportunity of defense. “I can say that the condition of Mr. Merabishvili is satisfactory. He misses two things: his family, like everyone in such a situation would and access to news. I was informed by Georgian ministers that he can send an official request to have a TV set there. I hope that the answer will be positive. The minister of Penitentiary System told me that he can request in the written form for the short visit of his family members.“
One of the main messages from the Euro-Parliamentarians is that nobody should be above the law. Mr. Roucek gave many examples when high-ranking politicians are in jail or in pre-trial cells. The Euro-parliamentarians find it difficult to conclude whether there is any case of political revenge in Georgia, as the government has one opinion and the opposition has another. They also mentioned that all are politicians and there is a certain competition and dramatics for political revenge in all countries, but all of them must always bear in mind that in 3-4- years’ time new elections are scheduled in which God knows, who will win.

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