David McAllister Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee
Gigi Ugulava, an opposition politician and one of the leaders of the “European Georgia” party, was sentenced to thirty-eight months in prison by the Supreme Court of Georgia on 10 February.
In Strasbourg the Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister (EPP, DE) issued the following statement which has also been co-signed by the Chair of the delegation to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee Marina Kaljurand (S&D, EE) and the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia Sven Mikser (S&D, EE).
“An independent and impartial judiciary that has the trust of the society is an essential pillar of any democracy. It is also part of Georgia’s commitments within the Association Agreement. Unfortunately, the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Mr Ugulava raises questions regarding the procedure, timing and motivation of the decision.”
“It also further heightens tensions in an already difficult political environment in Georgia. The continuation of dialogue between the parliamentary majority and the opposition is vital for reaching a consensus on electoral reform that best reflects the will of the Georgian people. We will remain in close contact with our partners in the Parliament of Georgia during this crucial time for democracy.”
Commenting on this, Nino Burjanadze, a senior political leader of the Opposition in Georgia said: “The state of Georgia put the implementation of basic democratic principles and European values as the highest declared priority since our independence. This was ardently supported by the public.”
“We can see some success in this endeavour but at the same time we also see that our governments have failed to strengthen democratic institutions and democratic process to the level of irreversibility. There are constantly appearing facts of abuse of power.”
“This was the obvious disease during the time of Saakashvili which resulted in his political disappearance. Now we see the same with the clique of the Oligarch Ivanishvili. The major instruments for the abuse of power remain the manipulation of the electoral process and the dependent judiciary system.”
“Today Georgia is under a bombardment of criticism from our friends in the West. There is great value in the moral support extended by our European friends. This may encourage our current ruler, Ivanishvili, not to jeopardise our democratic achievements and our friendship with our European partners.”