Press Releases Georgia: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP on media

Georgia: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP on media

Madam Chair, Honourable Members [of the European Parliament],

Free, diverse and independent media are essential for any society to promote and protect freedom of opinion and expression and other human rights. By facilitating the free flow of information and ideas on matters of general interest, and by ensuring transparency and accountability, independent media constitute one of the cornerstones of a democratic society.

As you know very well, Georgia is a very close partner in our neighbourhood. Our strong relationship is based on an ambitious Association Agreement with a Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Area underpinned by our common commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The verdict against Mr [Nika] Gvaramia comes against the backdrop of repeated calls by the EU to further reform the judiciary, in order to instill trust and increase its independence – a longstanding commitment by the Georgian authorities. The Commission has been very clear on this point: if Georgia is serious about its European path, there can be no room for politicised justice and no room for violations of media freedoms.

We note with concern an increasing number of episodes of violence against journalists in Georgia. Violence and intimidation are never acceptable.

We call upon the authorities to leave no space to impunity and to launch impartial, effective and timely investigations on these cases and improve the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists and other media professionals. Unfortunately, we have seen little progress in the investigations and prosecutions of the organisers of the violent attacks on 5 July 2021 against LGBTIQ people and journalists. We call again the authorities to redouble their efforts and to ensure the protection of freedom of assembly, against any hateful and intolerant attacks.

We continue to be concerned about the independence and impartiality of the Georgian judiciary. The EU has repeatedly invited Georgia to address these issues and engage in a thorough and comprehensive judicial reform.

Let me conclude by stressing that the EU remains a close friend and partner to Georgia and firmly engaged to further deepen EU-Georgia relations. This is a crucial moment for Georgia and the wider region, in a context where the Russia’s war against Ukraine has clearly created a new reality. We truly hope that the Georgian government will seize this moment to make progress on Georgia’s democratic path and uphold the highest standards in the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights. The way the authorities perform in this area will be crucial for any next steps on Georgia’s European path.

Thank you

Link to the video (starting at 25:20):

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