Georgia Plunges in Press Freedom Ranking

Georgia’s press freedom ranking declined dramatically from the 60th place in 2021 to 89th in a new survey released today by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based press freedom watchdog.

This is the country’s worst performance in the worldwide survey since 2013 when the country was placed 100th in the ranking. The place falls into a problematic situation category.

The country’s total score amounted to 59.30 points, with the highest 80.79 points in the legal framework indicator and the lowest in the safety criteria with 41.34. It garnered 75.50 points in the sociocultural context indicator, and 52,42 and 46.43 points for political and economic contexts, respectively.

In its assessments, Reporters Without Borders said that the Georgian Government’s interference undermined efforts to improve press freedom. “In 2021, the country recorded an unprecedented level of physical violence against journalists.”

Speaking of the safety of media workers, the RSF asserted that verbal and physical attacks on journalists are common in Georgia, including by senior government officials, particularly during elections.

“The lynching of some 50 reporters during homophobic counter-demonstrations in July 2021, in front of impassive security forces, marked an unprecedented setback. The lack of transparency and progress in investigations is a testament to the impunity enjoyed by crimes against journalists in the country.”

The Second Part of Georgia’s EU Membership Questionnaire Released

Georgian Government has released the second part of the EU membership questionnaire, provided by the European Commission to prepare the opinion on the country’s application.

The 239-page-long document, published on April 29, is divided into 33 chapters with about 2,300 questions, inquiring about the compatibility of Georgia’s specific legislative frameworks for each sector of the national economy with that of the EU.

With a focus on the freedom of movement and goods, along with the rights of companies and persons, the topics covered by the questionnaire range from existing legislation on work permits and the freedom of movement of workers to anti-discriminatory laws.

The EU has set the deadline for submitting the answers to the second part on May 13.

The Georgian government has already finished working on the first part of the questionnaire, with PM Irakli Garibashvili delivering the document to EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell on May 2. 

Georgia decided to apply for EU membership on March 3 after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Moldova soon followed suit as well.

Political Ratings, Institution Rankings in IRI Poll

According to a new IRI poll, 60% of respondents would like to see new political forces emerging in the country, while some 30% are happy with the current choices.

A lengthy public opinion survey tracks Georgians’ opinions on the most pressing problems facing their households and the country, the COVID-19 pandemic, and foreign policy issues among others.

According to the poll, Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II tops the list of favourable figures with 92%. only 4% have an unfavourable opinion of him.

Among politicians, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has the highest favorability with 53%, followed by President Salome Zurabishvili – with 52%, and PM Irakli Garibashvili with 47%.

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria enjoys 46% favorability, followed by Anna Dolidze, For People party leader with 44%, and ex-PM Giorgi Gakharia with 40%.

Asked which party they would vote for if parliamentary polls were held the coming Sunday, 31% named the ruling Georgian Dream party as the first choice, followed by the United National Movement with 16%.

Ex-PM Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia received 4%, Droa, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Labor Party, For the People, and Lelo were named with 2% each.

Openly Russian-friendly Patriots’ Alliance and Conservative Movement – Alt-Info were named by 1% each.

George Melashvili: It is inadmissible for Georgia to become a conduit through which Russian oligarchs will be able to evade sanctions

George Melashvili, President of the Europe-Georgiა Institute, spoke to InterpressNews about Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia’s position on Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and Georgia’s integration into the European Union.

“The war in Ukraine is the greatest tragedy on a historical scale and an event that has completely changed the security architecture of Europe.” – Said Melashvili.

 “The position of Europe, the United States and its allies on the war is clear – the collective West will do everything not only to stop Russia but also to ensure Ukraine’s victory in this war, this is evidenced by the revived land lease program and the huge financial support.” – Declared the President of the European-Georgian Institute.

According to him, the EU has already made a political decision that Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova will become members of the union.

“The EU has accelerated a number of procedures, including the submission of the questionnaire, but we must understand that in the near future, we are not talking about full membership, but about recognizing the European perspective and gaining EU candidate status. We also need to understand that the road from candidacy to membership is quite long and depends not only on external political factors but also on reforms within the country and the sharing of EU values.” – Noted he.

According to Melashvili “Brussels is monitoring the position of the Georgian government regarding the war in Ukraine and the statements of high-ranking officials. Now, at this moment, the disagreement with the Ukrainian government is incomprehensible to everyone and completely inappropriate. No less important is the issue of sanctions – it is inadmissible for Georgia to become a conduit through which Russian oligarchs will be able to evade sanctions. Apart from immorality, this is irrational: if evasion of sanctions is proven, it will quickly lead to the sanctioning of Georgia – which will completely destroy the Georgian economy and have a terrible impact on each of us. Ultimately, both Brussels and Washington are well aware that Georgia’s main problem today is the concentration of excess power in the hands of one political force and its complete subordination of institutions.” – said Melasvhili.

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