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PM Gharibashvili Requests European Commission to Separate itself From the Personification of De-oligarchization

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili writes a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. In the letter Gharibashvili talks about the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on June 9 and states that it ‘contains many unsubstantiated records and factual inaccuracies’ and is ready to provide detailed information if necessary.

Gharibashvili refers to the part of the resolution that concerns the consideration of the imposition of sanctions on the former Prime Minister of Georgia, businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, due to the role he played in the deterioration of the political process in Georgia.

Concern is expressed in the referred Resolution “over the destructive 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”. Resolution also seems “deeply worried by Ivanishvili’s exposed personal and business links to the Kremlin, which determine the position of the current Government of Georgia towards sanctions on Russia”. In addition, it “calls on the Council and democratic partners to consider imposing personal sanctions on Ivanishvili for his role in the deterioration of the political process in Georgia”.

According to the letter, the above entries of the Resolution passed by the European Parliament are not based on any evidence and are aimed to discredit the current system of governance in Georgia. “Opponents have never produced any evidence of Bidzina Ivanishvili intervening in politics or justice; besides, he no longer runs businesses in the country and no precedent of any kind exists on alleged personal or business connections with Russia. Thus, everything that was noted in the Resolution about informal governance is totally fictional.

Due to clear reasons, I will not elaborate on the outstanding contribution made by Bidzina Ivanishvili in ending the undemocratic rule in Georgia in 2012 and in ensuring the fundamentally democratic progress of the country from 2012.”

PM says the accusations of ‘informal governance’ are personally offensive to him and, the radical part of the opposition is using the notes of the resolution to further deepen the polarization in Georgia.

Also, the resolution was directly used by the Swiss bank to put Bidzina Ivanishvili's financial transfers on hold. Accordingly, the bank uses the document of the European Parliament to undermine the legal rights of the former Prime Minister of Georgia, which also discredits the country .

According to Ghariabashvili, in order to neutralize the negative impact of the European Parliament's resolution, it is important for the European Commission to express a clear position regarding the accusations expressed in the resolution so that ‘Georgian people towards European institutions and for keeping the radical wing of the opposition away from deepening the polarization on the grounds of the Resolution passed by the European Parliament’.

“In addition, assessment document published by the European Commission on Georgia, mentions a term ‘de-oligarchisation’ similar to documents related to Ukraine and Moldova. Our political opponents and their lobbyists within the European Parliament actively refer and note that European Commission made an entry on deoligarchisation in its document because of Bidzina Ivanishvili.” letter reads emphasizing that ‘Ivanishvili has no formal or informal influence on the Georgian politics or media and he may not be deemed oligarch by any legal or political criteria. In contrast with the aforesaid, there are several affluent individuals with criminal track records, who have an active influence on politics and media in favor of the radical wing of the opposition’.

PM urges the Commission to clearly distance itself from the personification of an entry about de-oligarchization, so that the document is not used to manipulate or discredit the governance system in Georgia and there is no space left for speculation, to maintain a high degree of trust towards European institutions in Georgian society and to facilitate a decline in the polarization in the country.

Notably, Gharibashvili also attached his letter published in Georgia several days ago with a detailed clarification of main values and principles that are guiding the governance system in his country. He expressed belief that the referred letter will provide a clear impression on why the radical wing of opposition is fighting against Ivanishvili, even after his total exit from politics.

On June 9, the European Parliament voted for a resolution on media freedom violations and journalists' safety challenges in Georgia. The document includes a call to consider the imposition of targeted sanctions against former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. It notes that Ivanishvili plays a ‘destructive role’ in Georgian politics and economy and has influence over ‘politically motivated persecution of journalists and political opponents’.

On June 17, European Commission issued recommendations regarding granting the status of candidate for EU membership to Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. The European Commission's recommendation to the Council of Leaders of the EU Member States is to give Ukraine and Moldova the status of a candidate for EU membership with mandatory conditions, while Georgia first fulfills specific conditions and the issue of granting it status is decided accordingly.

In order to obtain the candidate status, Georgia will have to fulfill 12 requirements, one of which concerns de-oligarchization. The ruling party says that the oligarchs are Davit Kezerashvili, one of the shareholders of the TV company ‘Formula’ and the imprisoned third president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, and not Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of their party.