MEP Von Cramon: Georgia’s ruling party has never been further away from EU membership
EU, US, concerned about the political crisis in Georgia
The ruling party of Georgia has never been further away from the EU membership, said MEP Viola von Cramon. According to her, a financial response is needed to what is happening in Georgia at the moment:
“We cannot allow money to go to a country that is not ready to fulfill its obligations on democratic reforms”.
Von Cramon announced this at a webinar, where participants assessed the impact of the 2021 local government elections on relations between Georgia and the EU.
“We must work with the ruling party, because, on the one hand, its members are our partners in parliament, but our statements against rhetoric, hate speech, intimidation, the use of administrative resources must be very clear, as well as our actions regarding the consequences”, Von Cramon said.
- Saakashvili’s hunger strike almost hit a month – what do we know about his health and what future awaits him?
Both the EU and the US expressed ‘concerns’ over the well-being of detained ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili who has recently been transferred to Gldani prison hospital amid ‘deteriorating health’ caused by over 40 days of hunger strike.
The US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan said that “n any country, the government has a responsibility to protect inmates from abuse, including mental abuse, as well as providing for their medical well-being and their safety”.
The EU, is worried about Saakashvili’s hunger strike, and a lot of the ex-president’s many European friends are also worried, said Anna Fotyga, another MEP:
“As for Mikhail Saakashvili, I share the opinion that his rule was far from perfect. I watched the 2012 elections, and the transfer of power back then was very peaceful. When the results of the exit poll became known, he acknowledged the victory of his opponent and acted very calmly. But what happened after his return to Georgia? In fact, he was sentenced to imprisonment without trial or investigation. He had every right to come to his country. I look forward to a real, open and transparent trial. We are concerned about his hunger strike”.
- Op-ed: Why Saakashvili came and will there be a Georgian Maidan
- EU Ambassador to Georgia: letter in support of Saakashvili signed by MEPs plays important role
According to Anna Fotyga, what is happening now against Mikhail Saakashvili is wrong.
“Please stay firm. Please find a solution. This is your role, not ours. We can only mediate, but the decision is yours. The role of the EU, Charles Michel and Ambassador Hartzel in this process is very positive”, Fotyga said.
“The elections were generally assessed as well organized but the question is, is that enough? Is this enough for a country with European aspirations?”, said Marina Kaljurand, MEP from Estonia.
According to her, if the opposition in Georgia feels that it does not have enough votes or that they are not strong enough, they must believe that MEPs are on the side of democracy in Georgia which, according to Kaljurand, means that MEPs are actively monitoring what is happening in parliament, and will also be the voice of the opposition at any time if the need arises.
“The elections are over and I hope that the political polarization and political unrest of the past year will be overcome. It’s time for Georgian politicians to return to their normal jobs”, Kaljurand said.
As for the EU Ambassador to Georgia, Carl Hartzell, who hosted the webinar, he recalled that after the first round of elections, the EU stated that the existing wrong practice should not become the norm, but that in the second round, little was done to eliminate such practice.
According to him, these elections can be assessed as another missed opportunity to significantly improve the electoral process.
“We saw serious shortcomings, including intimidation of candidates and voters, pressure on voters, vote-buying, abuse of administrative resources, and sharp disparities between resources that created unequal grounds for candidates”, Hartzell said.
Speaking about Saakashvili, the EU ambassador said that it is crucial to ensure the protection of his rights and conduct legal proceedings – and it is the full responsibility of the government.
“These rights include the right to a transparent, fair trial and adequate medical care, as well as the protection of honor and dignity while in a correctional facility. The Georgian government must do everything possible to fully protect these rights”, Carl Hartzell said.
On the evening of November 8, Mikhail Saakashvili was transferred from prison number 12 in the city of Rustavi to the Gldani prison in Tbilisi. Public Defender Nino Lomjaria and Saakashvili’s associates protested against this since the prison clinic does not have the conditions for proper care for a patient who has been starving for 40 days, and staying there is unsafe for the former president since criminal authorities are serving their sentences in Gldani prison.
In parallel with these processes, on November 8, the opposition announced the beginning of a series of indefinite large-scale protests demanding the release of Mikhail Saakashvili and the calling of early elections.