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President supports Media ombudsman’s initiative

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, March 9
Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili responded to the Prime Minister’s proposal to create a media ombudsman’s office and stressed the office shouldn’t be created with the aim to prove something for the European institutions.

The President thinks that if created, the office must be focused on protecting the free media.

The President stated the criteria for selecting the people for the office was of the utmost importance.

He said the new office should be linked with the Public Defender’s office and the staff for the organization must be selected by local and foreign media experts.

“We are ready to invite international level media experts as media ombudsman consultants in Georgia,” Vice Parliament Speaker from the ruling team Tamar Chugoshvili stated.

She also confirmed that now as never before the right of expression is protected in Georgia.

Chugoshvili stated that the PM’s offer served the aim to provide even higher guarantees for freedom of expression, and in case of any question in this regard answers will be provided by a body with significant legitimacy.

The parliamentary opposition as usual assessed the Prime Minister’s initiative as “populist” and once again accused the government of exercising pressure on media outlets and the courts.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili initiated the creation of a media ombudsman institute on March 6 in the wake of a large-scale stir over the Rustavi 2 private broadcaster trials, with the ex-owners of the channel gaining back the shares of the most influential TV channel in Georgia.

The PM stated the office of the Media Ombudsman would continuously monitor the country's media environment and development, including the processes involving Rustavi 2 and the media environment as a whole.

The PM said the government of Georgia honours decisions, recommendations and ideas from European institutions, “which make a special contribution to our country's democratic development”.

“Accordingly, this is exactly how we treat the decision of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the application of an interim measure to the Rustavi 2 case,” the PM said.