European Parliament resolution calls for sanctions against Ivanishvili
The European Parliament adopted a resolution titled “Violation of Media Freedom and Security of Journalists in Georgia”, on June 9, which criticized the Georgian Dream government over handling press freedom and called for sanctions against the founder of the ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The resolution calls on the Georgian authorities to adhere to the highest standards of democracy, including the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, fair trials and fundamental freedoms, including in the area of media freedom.
According to the document, the Georgian government “unambiguously demonstrate their political determination to actualise the ambitious European aspirations of the people of Georgia, as witnessed by the country’s application for EU membership of 3 March 2022”.
The European Parliament noted that the legitimate aspirations of the people of Georgia deserve to be fulfilled” and therefore called on the EU institutions to “work for the granting of EU candidate status to Georgia by Article 49 of the EU Treaty, provided that the Georgian government meets all criteria.”
In the resolution, the European Parliament expresses concern over the “role played by the sole oligarch, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in Georgia’s politics and economy, and the level of control he exerts over the government and its decisions, including those on the politically motivated persecution of journalists and political opponents.”
The European Parliament said that it is “is deeply worried” about Ivanishvili’s personal and business ties to the Kremlin, “which determine the position of the current Government of Georgia towards sanctions on Russia”
The European Parliament calls on the Council and the “democratic partners” to consider imposing personal sanctions on Ivanishvili over his role in worsening the political process in Georgia.
Government of Georgia criticizes the European Parliament resolution
The chairman of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze criticized the European Parliament’s resolution on June 9, regarding the violations of media freedom in Georgia. Resolution also called for sanctions on the ruling party’s founder Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The document has “nothing in common with European values and this sort of resolution, I’ll say it directly, is not worth a dime,” Kobakhidze asserted.
According to him, the resolution is a hint that Georgia may not be granted EU candidate status, unlike Ukraine and Moldova. “This will be a completely illogical and unjust decision, to which all people interested in peace, the rule of law and economic progress in Georgia will have their reaction.”
Kobakhidze maintained that even if “one theoretically assumes” that Ivanishvili remains in politics, the only thing he could be reproached with is that “Georgian authorities did not impose sanctions against Russia, [which would mean] punishing its own people.”
“Perhaps, they are annoyed by the fact that against the background of the worst economic problems in the world, in Georgia last year and during January-April of this year, economic growth stood over 10 percent,” he added.
The Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili called the resolution “biased” and criticized the MEPs. He said that resolution was “irresponsible and insulting to our people, 80% of whom are in favor of our country’s integration in Europe.”
Nika Melia, the chairperson of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party, brought attention to the fact that “every political faction, including that of which Georgian Dream is a part [S&D]” agreed on the resolution and the current situation in Georgia.
According to Giorgi Gakharia, the former Prime Minister of Georgia and the leader of the Party for Georgia, “today the biggest threat is for Georgia to secede from Ukraine and Moldova, with which the EU enlargement has been discussed for years and Georgia is the undisputed leader.”
Zurabishvili Says Government Makes Hard to Defend EU Candidacy
The President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, condemned the comments of the Georgian government on the critical resolution of the European Parliament and said that it does not allow her to effectively defend Georgia’s candidacy.
“Unfortunately, such a resolution was approved, and even more unfortunately, this resolution was followed by such comments from the ruling party, which does not really allow me to effectively defend our candidacy today,” – said the President of Georgia.
“I do not think that anyone should be an obstacle in this process, neither Saakashvili, nor Gvaramia, nor Bidzina Ivanishvili. No one is at the cost of not protecting the future of our children,” the president said.
In response, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said that Zurabishvili was “repeating the statements of this destructive, harmful opposition, the enemies of the country.”
“I would like to remind everyone in general that our state is, first of all, a sovereign state and an independent country. Secondly, our country is governed by law, laws and the constitution,” he said.