EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle expressed hope during a meeting with President Margvelashvili in Prague on April 25 that Georgia will “quickly” adopt anti-discrimination legislation in order to move ahead with the visa liberalization.
Parliament passed anti-discrimination bill with its first reading on April 17 and it is expected to discuss the bill with the second hearing this week.
The bill, proposed by the government, has been criticized by a large group of human rights organization, who say that it lacks effective mechanism of enforcement.
The bill has also come under attack from conservative and radical Orthodox groups, but for completely different reasons – they insist on removing “sexual orientation” from non-exhaustive list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Adoption of the anti-discrimination law is one of those requirements, which Georgia has undertaken under its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan in order to be granted short-term visa-free regime by the EU.
Commissioner Füle and President Margvelashvili, who met on the sideline of a high-level gathering in Prague marking the fifth anniversary of the inaugural summit of EU’s Eastern Partnership summit, exchanged views on how to ensure that the benefits of the Association Agreement, including deep and comprehensive free trade treaty, “are felt by Georgian citizens as soon as possible,” EU Commissioner’s press office reported. Georgia and EU are expected to sign the Association Agreement no later than June.
“In order to reap the full benefits of the AA/DCFTA, Georgia must show its genuine commitment to all aspects of the Association Agreement including shared values,” reads EU Commissioner’s press release. “In this context he [Commissioner Füle] added that it was extremely important that the government continues to deliver consistently on political reforms and focuses also on the need to strengthen the democratic institutions and respect for the role of the opposition. Commissioner Füle welcomed the advice provided to the government in this respect by EU's Special Adviser Thomas Hammarberg.”
A high-level Georgian delegation, led by PM Irakli Garibashvili is expected to visit Brussels in May and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will visit Tbilisi in mid-June.