(Source: European Council)
Today I visited Georgia to attend the Batumi International Conference and a meeting with leaders of the EU’s Associated partners – Georgia, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
On this occasion, I also had the opportunity to meet President Zourabichvili, Prime Minister Garibashvili and leaders of Georgia’s parliamentary opposition parties to discuss the latest developments in Georgia and the implementation of the 19 April Agreement.
My single most important message to all political parties in Georgia is that the full implementation of the 19 April Agreement remains the best guarantee to advance Georgia’s democratic agenda in the interest of the country’s citizens.
Determined progress in consolidating the rule of law through political and judicial reforms is of particular importance. Judicial reform is a core part of the 19 April Agreement and a condition the disbursement of EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia. The recent fast-track confirmation of Supreme Court judges did not fully reflect the results of consultations with international and domestic stakeholders. This was clearly a missed opportunity.
I also stressed in all my meetings today the central role fundamental rights and freedoms play in our EU-Georgia relations. Rights of minorities are not a marginal issue – respect for diversity and human dignity are essential to our fundamental values. The constitutional rights to freedoms of expression, press and assembly must be upheld.
I was pleased that all signatories of the Agreement remain committed to its full implementation and to developing a more inclusive, united way forward among all political forces in the country. I call on those who have not yet signed to do so.