Persecution of media and opponents in Georgia – the compromise resolution of the European Parliament
Compromise resolution on Georgia adopted
On November 8 at a meeting of the Committee on Foreign Relations in Brussels, deputies of the European Parliament discussed an annual report on fulfillment of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union. According to the document, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, whom opponents of the Georgian government consider a shadow ruler, is no longer referred to as an oligarch. However, the name and of the businessman is still used in the context of “deoligarchization”, and it is also noted that legislation is needed to curb his influence.
At a meeting of the Committee on Foreign Relations, 47 MEPs supported the resolution, five voted against, two abstained.
The website of the European Parliament published a document on the amendments, which mentions about 220 amendments, in which Bidzina Ivanishvili was mentioned 12 times as an oligarch.
The text contains various arguments for imposing sanctions against Ivanishvili. Some of them concern Russia’s war in Ukraine and its perceived support from Georgia — in particular, Ivanishvil’s.
What the compromise document says
● The European Parliament stresses the need to eliminate undue influence on economic, political and social life. This is called a priority, and this issue must be resolved before Georgia is granted candidate status. According to the recommendations of the European Parliament, the excessive influence of independent interests, in particular former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, should be identified systematically through structural and regulatory reforms in various areas of the country’s economy, political and public life.
● The European Parliament calls on Georgia’s political leaders to stop verbal attacks on MEPs and other representatives of Euro-Atlantic partners such as the European Union and the United States, stop baseless and defamatory rhetoric, and cease accusations that international partners are allegedly seeking to drag Georgia into the war. The European Parliament notes with concern the increase in anti-Western propaganda, disinformation and rhetoric in Georgia, which is at odds with enduring public support of the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
● The European Parliament calls on the Georgian authorities to stop politically motivated criminal cases and reconsider current cases brought against opposition media, their owners or their family members. The cases of the director of the opposition TV channel Nika Gvaramia, and the directors and owners of “Formula” and “TV Pirveli” are mentioned. The European Parliament expresses deep concern that on November 2 the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction of Nika Gvaramia on dubious charges.
● The European Parliament also mentions the ex-president of Georgia: “Mikhail Saakashvili’s health continues to deteriorate, and he still is not receiving proper care, endangering his life. We call on Georgian Dream to bring Saakashvili abroad for humanitarian treatment.”
The document mentions the Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia Nino Lomjaria and positively assesses her role in relation to various democratic institutions. The frequent attacks on Lomjaria by the authorities are also condemned. The European Parliament once again calls on the Georgian Parliament for a transparent election of a new Public Defender.
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On June 17, the European Commission prepared a report on granting Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for EU membership. It was decided to grant this status to Ukraine and Moldova, while Georgia was first obliged to fulfill the 12 points.
Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova jointly applied for EU membership on 3 March.
On June 9, the European Parliament approved a resolution on violations of media freedom and the problems of the safety of journalists in Georgia.