Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has sent an open letter to the European People’s Party (EPP) on March 14th. The letter was written in response to a letter sent to the Georgian government by 23 members of the EPP on March 6th. In their letter the 23 EPP MPs stressed that the current Georgian government's actions are putting the country's prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration under threat.
Ivanishvili sends an open letter to the European People's Party
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, March 15
At the beginning of the letter Ivanishvili stated that European values – personal freedom, respect for the dignity of others, participation in governance, accountability and transparency of government, rule of law, the protection of human rights and tolerance for minorities all constitute the driving force behind the Georgian people’s longing for the West. In the 2012 election, Georgian citizens mandated the Georgian Dream political coalition to build a state upon these same values.
Ivanishvili also expressed his respect for the European People’s Party as one of the largest, influential, and successful political forces in Europe.
“Naturally, our respect extends to individual members of the EPP, with whom we have already had the opportunity to meet.” the Prime Minister wrote.
In his letter Ivanishvili described the situation in the country from 2004 to the parliamentary elections of October 1, 2012. Ivanishvili stressed that after coming to power President Saakashvili gave himself such power that he could govern in the style of an authoritarian leader and made changes to the country be decree. To make his point the Prime Minister cited the 25 constitutional changes that were carried out between 2004 and 2012 under President Saakashvili's leadership.
Ivanishvili described the President has having assumed "the role of a constitutional dictator” adding as proof the constitutional provision which gave the President, alone and uncontested, the right to appoint a government without the consent of Parliament. Ivanishvili also alleged the former government created business monopolies and interfered with the media. In regards to the latter the Prime Minister cited the former government's seizure of TV station Imedi in 2008.
“Do you consider it compatible with democracy to have a president entitled to appoint a government without consulting the parliament? Are you aware of any other democratic country with such a system? If your answer to these questions is negative, then allow me to ask whether you consider it acceptable to have a political entity, instigator and promoter of such as system as a member of your political family?” Ivanishvili asked the EPP. President Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) is an observer member of the European People's Party.
Ivanishvili then shifted his attention to overcrowding and torture in the Georgian penitentiary system as well as the deaths of 653 prisoners during the UNM government. He also mentioned the involvement of UNM officials in the murders of various public figures.
Ivanishvili strengthened his arguments with the research of Georgian and foreign organizations.
“Before making far-reaching assertions about "closing European doors" I urge you to send long-term observers to Georgia and see for yourselves that the will of the Georgian government to ensure democratic governance is unwavering. Our mission implies unequivocal commitment to democratic values, the rule of law, and human rights. The demand and desire of the Georgian people is to live by true Western values.” Ivanishvili told the EPP.
Georgian Dream members positively assessed the Prime Minister's response and implied that the EPP members in question lacked information about the current situation in Georgia.
The UNM have described the European MPs letter as "alarming" because under the former government the country's European orientation was never under question.