Electoral environment ahead of the October parliamentary polls will be part of discussions during a regular EU-Georgia human rights dialogue planned in Tbilisi on June 26.
“In light of upcoming parliamentary elections, the EU looks forward to hearing about further progress in establishing a tolerant and pluralistic political culture, and towards the prompt handling of allegations of intimidation or dismissals,” reads a written statement released by EU ambassador in Georgia, Philip Dimitrov, on behalf of other Tbilisi-based diplomats from EU-member states on June 16.
“Discussions will also cover a broad range of topics, including large prison population, accountability of law enforcement officers, minorities, functioning of civil society, and the human rights situation in the breakaway regions,” the statement says.
Previous EU-Georgia human rights dialogue was held a year ago in Brussels.
Since last session in June 2011, the statement reads, “justice reforms, progress regarding freedom of religion, support to internally displaced persons, and independent monitoring by the Public Defender's Office have continued. The orderly conduct of most demonstrations since May 2011 has also been noted.”
It also says that the EU will continue raising labor rights, particularly in the context of talks on deep and comprehensive free and trade agreement (DCFTA) and Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+); this latter allows Georgia enjoy preferential access to the EU market through lower import duties. But to make progress in DCFTA talks Georgia has to put its labor code in line with international labor conventions.
Parliament has recently passed amendments to the labor code with its second reading removing a provision, which was putting 90-day limit on strikes; the amendment also halves minimum number of members required to form a trade union to 50. The Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) welcomed the move as a positive step, but said the amendments were not addressing “the most problematic” issues about the labor code, which GTUC has been raising since this code was adopted in 2006.