The messenger logo

Tsulukiani responds to foreign criticism

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, August 8
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt responded to the current events in Georgia. According to the foreign politician “Georgia authorities deviated from the European path in using the justice system for revenge.” “It does damage to the country”, Carl Bildt said in a Tweet on Wednesday.

Several days ago The Wall Street Journal published an editorial as well, entitled ‘What a Georgian Shame’, pertaining to the charges levied against former Georgian officials and the culture of political revenge that remains in Georgia.

In response to such allegations Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani wrote a letter explaining the current situation in the country.

“On behalf of the government of Georgia and the Georgian people, I strongly protest these statements. Now more than ever, we are focused on establishing a strong democracy—building an independent justice system that is impartial and follows the facts wherever they may lead,” Tsulukiani states.

The minister stresses that Georgia is credited by its international partners with having made great democratic progress since the change of government in 2012.

“U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland recently praised Georgia's ‘remarkable progress’ in developing democratic institutions, echoing remarks from NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe, as well as NGOs such as Freedom House. The European Union responded to these positive developments by speeding-up the signing of a far-reaching political and trade agreement with Georgia,” Tsulukiani writes.

The minister emphasizes that the charges against former President Mikheil Saakashvili have been brought not by the Georgian government—as implied in the editorial—but by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor, which was made independent from the Ministry of Justice in 2013 as part of Georgia's sweeping reforms.

“The case against Saakashvili and some of his former colleagues is far from trivial and must be fully investigated. The prosecutor's office has received nearly 20,000 citizen complaints alleging serious human-rights abuses under the former ruling party, implicating the highest levels of government. The authorities have a legal duty to investigate violations of human rights,” Tsulukiani stated, adding that Saakashvili has been charged in relation to a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters and the suppression of media, as documented by Human Rights Watch.

Tsuluikiani admits that the victims of various violations under the previous government have a right to receive answers to their complaints.

The United National Movement, the party created by Mikheil Saakashvili, and the ex-President as well state that the current developments in the country damage Georgia’s image. They stress that all the accusations made against the former officials are politically motivated, aiming at destruction of the main opposition party in the country.

Researcher of the Philadelphia Foreign Policy Institute, Michael Cecire, states that the charges filed by the Prosecutor’s Office may be politically unwise, but they involve incidents that are incontrovertibly serious. He claims that though the response from the West has been sharp, the incidents pose serious questions to those that are reflexively pro-Saakashvili.

Tbilisi City Court and the Appeals Court have accepted Saakashvili’s pre-trial detention. Saakashvili’s lawyers’ are going to appeal the verdict to the Strasburg International Court.