'Only Moscow is happy' – Western diplomats to Georgian gov't
Georgia’s partners – former ambassadors, diplomats and high-ranking officials – have issued an open letter demanding the release of opposition leader in Georgia Nika Melia.
Melia was arrested on February 23 during a special operation on the headquarters of the United National Movement party which involved the use of tear gas.
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“We are deeply concerned about political developments in Georgia, including the decision of the Georgian government to storm the office of a leading opposition party in order to detain its leader,” the letter said.
The Georgian government, the authors write, must take the first step and release the opposition leader, without which ‘it will be impossible to find a way out of the political deadlock’ in which the country found itself after the parliamentary elections in October 2021; the entire opposition has declared the elections to be falsified, and opposition MPs have renounced their mandates and refuse to work in parliament.
The release of the opposition leader will be the first step towards overcoming the political crisis in Georgia, the letter says.
Those who wrote the letter consider themselves friends of Georgia, who “for a long time admired the steadfastness of the Georgian people in preserving the independence and territorial integrity of the country, as well as the adherence of the Georgian people to democratic values.”
The diplomats reiterated that they support Georgia’s aspirations for Euro-Atlantic and European integration.
Ambassadors and diplomats stress that the one-party parliament that has now formed in Georgia is not a sign of a healthy democracy. Such a development of events not only undermines the country’s security and economy in the context of a global panedmia, but also damages the international image and reputation of Georgia as a stable partner of the West in the region:
“Only Moscow is satisfied with the development of events in Georgia,” the message says.
The letter says that democracy is also facing challenges in their countries. But all political institutions in the West are supported by fair and free elections, an independent judiciary, a developed civil society, and free media.
“The salvation of democratic institutions in the country is possible only through the joint efforts of the Georgian government and opposition leaders. The common goal is to form a multi-party parliament that will express the will of all voters and will be trusted by the Georgian people. This is necessary to move the country forward,” the letter says.
The letter was signed by:
- Jan Bond, Center for European Reforms
- Matthew Bryza, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
- Carrie Cavanaugh, University of Kentucky
- Luke Coffey, Heritage Foundation
- Svante Cornell, Institute for Central Asia and the Caucasus, American Council on Foreign Policy
- William Courtney, former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia
- Larry Diamond, Stanford University
- Pierre Eklund, former EU Ambassador to Georgia
- Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University
- Alexandra Hall Hall, former United Kingdom Ambassador to Georgia
- Lieutenant General Ben Hodges
- Glenn Howard, Jamestown Foundation
- Thomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia
- Jonathan Mun, German Marshall Fund, USA
- Ian Kelly, Northwestern University; Former US Ambassador to Georgia
- David J. Kramer, Florida International University; Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
- Michael McFaul, Stanford University
- Thomas Melia, PEN America; Former USAID Europe and Eurasia Assistant Richard Miles, Former US Ambassador to Georgia
- Laura Thornton, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance; Former director of NDI Georgia
- Randy Schonemann, Halifax International Security Forum
- Kurt Walker, former US ambassador to NATO
- Kenneth Yalovich, former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia