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Statements on Ukraine, Eastern Partnership Debated in Parliament
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 28 Nov.'13 / 02:59

On the eve of the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, the Georgian Parliament adopted on November 27 a GD-proposed statement reiterating support towards country’s European integration, but a separate statement proposed by the UNM on developments in Ukraine was voted down.

Ukrainian flags dominated in the Georgian Parliament chamber on November 27. Lawmakers from the UNM parliamentary minority group were wearing scarves in the design of the Ukrainian flag and triple – Ukrainian, Georgian and EU, table flags were on their desks; the Ukrainian flag also featured on the part of the chamber which is occupied by MPs from the GD parliamentary majority group.

“The chamber today is unusually colorful, I mean it literally,” parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili said while opening the session on November 27, and asked for Ukrainian, Georgian and EU table flags for his desk too.

This symbolic display of unanimous solidarity for Ukraine’s EU integration, however, was not translated into adoption of the statement as UNM-proposed text was rejected with some GD lawmakers saying that it was “meddling in other country’s foreign affairs.”

After protest rallies started in Kiev against Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend preparation for the Association Agreement with the EU, UNM lawmakers earlier this week called on the Georgian Parliament to adopt a statement on developments in Ukraine.

UNM-proposed text read: the Parliament “expresses concern over political and economic pressure and blackmail exerted by the Russian Federation against the Ukrainian authorities in recent months with the purpose to make Ukraine reject signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union.”

The draft statement was rejecting “doctrine of Russia’s sphere of influence” and expressing “confidence that it is impossible to stop Ukraine from moving towards the European family of free nations.” “All the efforts aimed at impeding Ukraine’s European integration are directed against freedom,” UNM-proposed text read.

GD lawmakers showed reluctance to accept the text from the very beginning; they instead proposed a separate text, which was on Eastern Partnership in general with focus on Georgia and making no mention of Ukraine or any other country at all.

The statement expresses “respect towards political and cultural diversity and towards individual approaches by each of the Eastern Partnership member in the process of European integration” and reiterates “full support” to the Georgian President and the Government to initial the Association Agreement at the Vilnius Summit on November 28-29.

It also expresses Parliament’s “readiness to undertake all the necessary measures in order to sign the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union in 2014” and expresses hope that the European Union “will make ambitious project of the Eastern Partnership further efficient, flexible and result oriented.”

GD MPs later also added to the text the following paragraph: “[The Parliament] expresses confidence that the international community and the democratic world will intensify efforts for the support of the Eastern Partnership countries and for the protection of their sovereignty; we express hope that the Eastern Partnership countries will have freedom of choice in the process of the European integration, which will not be infringed by anyone.”

After a failure to agree on a joint text, both of the draft statements were put on discussion and consequently on vote at a parliamentary session on November 27.

During the debates GD lawmakers argued that UNM-proposed text was “not pragmatic” and “not diplomatic” and it’s adoption would mean interference and taking sides in the internal affairs of Ukraine. GD MP Victor Dolidze, who chairs parliamentary committee for European integration, said there was no need at all “to link” Ukrainian issue with the Georgian one. “We should refrain from taking decisions based on emotions,” he said.

UNM lawmakers were criticizing GD MPs for shunning away from adopting a statement, which was speaking out against Russia’s policy.

“This statement [proposed by UNM] creates no discomfort to anyone, except of Russia,” a senior UNM lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, said.

UNM offered to add to GD-proposed text wording condemning notion of Russia’s sphere of influence; in that case, UNM MPs said, they were ready to vote for the statement.

Just before the vote several MPs from the both groups met in an attempt to reach an agreement, but they failed. After those brief talks, parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili said that GD was ready to accept UNM’s proposal to include wording on ‘spheres of influence’, but on the condition that UNM would have withdrawn its statement on Ukraine; but the proposal was rejected by UNM, according to Usupashvili.

As a result two separate statements were put on vote; GD’s text was passed with votes from the parliamentary majority group and UNM’s text was voted down.

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