EP resolution on press freedom in Georgia calls for sanctions against Ivanishvili – Civil.ge

The European Parliament today adopted a resolution titled “Violations of Media Freedom and Safety of Journalists in Georgia”, which lambasted the Georgian Dream authorities for their handling of press freedom, did not apply for EU candidate status for the country and called for sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili, former Prime Minister and Founder of Georgian Dream.

The resolution called on the Georgian authorities to resolutely uphold the highest standards of democracy, rule of law, judicial independence, fair trials and fundamental freedoms, including in the area of ​​media freedom.

He said Georgian leaders should “unambiguously demonstrate their political determination to realize the ambitious European aspirations of the Georgian people, as evidenced by the country’s bid for EU membership.”

The Parliament stated that “the legitimate aspirations of the Georgian people deserve to be met and therefore calls on the EU institutions to work towards granting EU candidate status to Georgia, in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, on the basis of merit and provided that the Georgian authorities meet all the criteria”.

Plethora of problems

The resolution noted a plethora of issues, including but not limited to freedom of the press:

  • Mob attacks against more than 50 journalists on July 5, 2021;
  • The death of Alexander LashkaravaTV Pirveli cameraman, days after being assaulted on July 5;
  • ” Persistence lack of diligent investigations or prosecution” of those responsible for the violence against journalists and peaceful protesters during the Tbilisi Pride march on July 5;
  • Important downgrading Georgia in the World Press Freedom Index from 60th to 89th place over the year;
  • Journalists, especially those from media outlets critical of the government, face difficulties in accessing public information;
  • Alleged spy on journalists by the security services;
  • The growing number of verbal attacks on journalists and defamation lawsuits, including those launched by government officials and individuals associated with the ruling party, against critical media representatives;
  • A lack of transparency and efficiency in investigations, “which has led to a widespread impression of impunity for those guilty of crimes against journalists”;
  • Conviction of Nika GvaramiaTV chief criticizes government at three-and-a-half years ‘on dubious charges’
  • “Politically motivated cases against media owners and representatives;”
  • Change in law on Electronic Communications which gives the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC), a regulatory body, the right to appoint special managers within telecommunications companies;
  • “Continued discrimination against LGBTQI+ people ; »
  • “Regular government attacks” against public defender Nino Lomjaria.

Call for sanctions against Ivanishvili

In the resolution, the European Parliament expresses its concern over the “destructive role played by the sole oligarch, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in Georgian politics and economy, and the level of control he exercises over the government and its decisions, including those who are politically motivated”. persecution of journalists and political opponents.

Parliament said it was “deeply concerned about Ivanishvili’s exposed personal and business ties with the Kremlin, which determine the current Georgian government’s stance on sanctions against Russia.”

He then called on the Council and “the democratic partners to consider imposing personal sanctions on Ivanishvili for his role in the deterioration of the political process in Georgia”.

Other issues

The resolution recognized the diversity and pluralism of the media landscape in Georgia, but deplored the extremely tense relations between the ruling party and critical media.

He called on the Georgian authorities to release former President Mikheil Saakashvili from prison on humanitarian grounds to allow him to undergo appropriate medical treatment abroad.

The document expresses concern over the “steady increase” in Russian disinformation and manipulation of information in Georgia, in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The critical resolution comes as Georgia awaits the European Commission’s opinion on the country’s bid soon, with the European Council expected to take a final decision by the end of June.

Georgia applied on March 3, following in the footsteps of Ukraine which sent its application to Brussels days after the full-scale Russian invasion. Moldova also signed the request on the same day. Unlike in the case of Georgia, the European Parliament expressed its unequivocal support by calling on EU member states to grant candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine.

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