10 December 2018
Tbilisi – Human rights, corruption and visa-free travel at the 10th meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
Alexandra Stiglmayer (right) at panel on human rights in the Georgian parliament. Screenshot: Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
Alexandra Stiglmayer (right) at panel on human rigths in the Georgian parliament. Screenshot: Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

ESI’s Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer participated in the 10th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) in Tbilisi, Georgia, from 10 to 12 December 2018. She spoke at two panels, one on how to combat violations of human rights and corruption in the EU and EaP countries and the other on the post visa-free agenda in the EaP countries.

At the first panel, Alexandra and the other panellists discussed human rights violations inside and outside the EU as well as the Dutch proposal for an EU-level sanctions regime targeting human rights violators. Alexandra presented ESI’s proposal for an independent commission that would make proposals whom to list if such a sanctions regime is established, but which would also act independently by identifying egregious offenders and publicising their names and the cases behind them. The other panellists were Harry Hummel from the Helsinki Committee Netherlands, Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and Iskra Kirova from the Open Society European Policy Office.

At the second panel, Alexandra discussed the situation in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, as well as the five Western Balkan countries, with regard to the visa roadmap conditions that remain only partially fulfilled. For all these countries the EU abolished the visa requirement in recent years after they successfully completed a visa liberalisation process. All panellists agreed that the remaining crucial issues in all the countries were the fight against corruption and organised crime, which are now important topics in the EU Association Agreements with the three EaP countries and the enlargement process of the five Western Balkan countries. Alexandra called on civil society in all six EaP countries to start to measure corruption every year based on the methodology that the European Commission developed for EU member states in 2014. This, she said, would clearly show the sectors in which corruption was most pronounced and progress in fighting it. It would also foster healthy competition, she said. ESI made the same proposal for Western Balkan countries in 2015.

The panellists, who also included Gogita Gvedashvili from the Georgian Centre for Security and Development (GCSD), Iulian Groza from the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) in Moldova, Iryna Sushko from the Civic Organization “Europe without Barriers” Ukraine and Krzysztof Mrozek from the Stefan Batory Foundation Poland, also discussed the possibility that the EU suspends again the visa-free regime with any of the countries, concluding that at this time this was unlikely both for the lack of substantive  grounds and for political reasons.

The EaP CSF aims to strengthen civil society in the EU’s six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) and to foster cooperation and the exchange of experience between civil society organisations in the EaP countries and the EU. The CSF meets annually for a plenary assembly. It was founded in 2009 when the EU officially launched its EaP initiative that is aimed at forging closer ties between the EU and the EaP countries.

Alexandra Stiglmayer (second from right) at visa panel in the Georgian parliament. Photo: Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
Alexandra Stiglmayer (right) at visa panel in the Georgian parliament. Photo: Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
Georgian parliament. Photo: ESI
Georgian parliament. Photo: ESI
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