The President of the European People’s Party (EPP), Wilfried Martens, and the Vice President of the EPP and Chairman of the EPP Group in Euronest, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, made a critical statement regarding the recent violent acts in Georgia against parliamentarians of the United National Movement (UNM).Statement by Martens and Saryusz-Wolski:
The violent events of last week in Georgia have shocked the European public opinion, EU leaders and international observers. The violent acts organized and staged in front of the National Library of Tbilisi in order to prevent Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to deliver a speech – violence that caused injuries to several parliamentarians belonging to the UNM – are totally unacceptable. Our political family was swift to condemn in the strongest possible terms these intolerable acts.
However, the European People’s Party, being the largest political family in Europe, cannot be satisfied only with condemnations of principle. Our responsibility is far greater. We must put what happened into perspective because, unfortunately, these events are not isolated cases.
Even though the EPP was disappointed with the results of the October 2012 parliamentary elections, we welcomed the fact that they were conducted successfully and in line with the international standards. The transfer of power, which followed, made us think that Georgia will soon enter the club of the modern democracies. Unfortunately, this hope was short-lived. Since then, the new Georgian government authorities have not stopped breaching democratic rules. These breaches have been condemned several times by the international community: EU, NATO, United States, and others. Moreover, there is consensus in the international community that this ongoing undemocratic behavior could undermine Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration process.
Despite the attempts of constructive rhetoric by Georgian officials, words have not been followed by acts and the situation continues to deteriorate dramatically. It is sad to see Georgia, a modern and democratic state built patiently over the years, being destroyed in a just few months. It is regrettable to see Georgia moving in the wrong direction and Georgian citizens having to bear the negative consequences.
The EPP has always supported the integration process of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. The EPP is the political force most involved in this process. The founders of the EaP belong to our political family. We’ve been the first to clearly say that the EaP countries will one day join the EU if they wish so and act accordingly (EPP declarations of Batumi and Yerevan). Needless to say, Georgia was one of the most remarkable EaP success stories.
However, the relations between the EU and Georgia are based on the conviction that we share the same values and principles and on our joint commitment to promote them. The current negotiations of the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia are conducted in this same framework. Unfortunately, we all must admit that the conditions to continue such a dialogue between the EU and Georgia are not met anymore. This is very regrettable but the EU cannot compromise its basic values and democratic standards.
Georgian citizens must understand that these values are the very essence of the European Union. They are not negotiable. It would be completely unrealistic, and even misleading, to give the impression that the EU could integrate politically and economically countries which are breaching these fundamental values and principles. Our public opinion would never accept it. It is impossible to finalize and sign an Association Agreement with a country that does not respect these principles any more.
The EPP still believes that Georgia must join the Euro-Atlantic structures and it will work in this direction. This is why a high level EPP delegation will visit Tbilisi on the end of February-beginning of March, in order to meet with the Georgian government and with political representatives both from majority and opposition parties, in order to identify possible conditions for establishing an honest dialogue between the EU and Georgia. Furthermore, the delegation will present a report with its findings to the EPP Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission at the EPP Summit of March 14th, and will discuss and decide on a set of concrete actions.
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