ADDRESS OF THE SPEAKER, SHALVA PAPUASHVILI TO THE PACE PRESIDENT, TINY KOX

Published in Politics
Monday, 24 October 2022 11:13

The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, wrote a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Martinus Tiny Kox, stating that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in the amendment to the Resolution changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution and undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of the organisation in upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. "News Day Georgia" offers this statement in full:

To the PACE President, Tiny Kox
Mr. President,
A long-standing partnership of the Parliament of Georgia with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe allows me to address you with regards to Resolution 2463 (2022): “Further escalation in the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, debated under the urgent procedure of the fourth part of the ordinary session. Despite our full solidarity to Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, approval of the following amendment has prevented the members of the Georgian Delegation from supporting the Resolution: “the Assembly calls on the Russian authority for the immediate release of Vladimir Kara-Murza. The Assembly also calls for a review of cases of other political prisoners opposed to Putin in the Russian Federation and other countries, and for their release (including Mikheil Saakashvili – a Ukrainian citizen and former President of Georgia)”.

We believe that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in this amendment (a) changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution, and (b) undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of organization in upholding human rights, democracy and rules of law across Europe. The European Court of Human Rights issued over 100 judgements during Mr. Saakashvili’s rule, including 13 cases on Article 2 (right to life), 34 cases on Article 3 (prohibition of torture), 15 cases on Article 5 (right to liberty and security), and 44 cases on Article 6 (right to a fair trial). Moreover, the Court underlined in its Alexander Girgvliani murder case (Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia) that Mr. Saakashvili hindered an effective investigation and appropriate punishment.

The Report on Human Rights Development in Georgia in 2004-2012 made by Mr. Thomas Hammamberg, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Special Adviser on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights in Georgia in 2013 is a testament to systemic violations of the Convention-related rights during Saakashvili’s presidency. It identifies an alarming situation in areas of judiciary, penitentiary, law enforcement, rights of minorities, rights to take part in public affairs, freedom of expression, assembly and association, and social justice. Mr. Saakashvili has been convicted in Georgia in two criminal cases (the one on the above-mentioned Girgvliani case and the other on organizing an attack against opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili).

Three other criminal cases are pending (on the exceeding and abusing of official powers during the breaking up of anti-government protests on November 7, 2007, and the subsequence seizure of Imedi TV, an independent television broadcaster; on embezzlement of funds from the State Protection Service for personal use; and on illegal crossing of the Georgian state border). The ECHR refused to accept Mr. Saakashvili’s case regarding his treatment by Georgia’s penitentiary system. ECHR has found there were no “special circumstances” in the application relating to respect for human rights, which would have required the body to continue the examination of the case.

The decision of the European Court has once again confirmed that the rights and interests of Mikheil Saakashvili were fully protected in the penitentiary system per the standards of the ECHR. Georgia has both a clear track record of protecting human rights, democracy and rule of law since 2012 and closely cooperating with the ECHR in implementing its judgements. Georgian cases to the ECHR dropped 5,5 times in 2013-2021 compared to Mr. Saakashvili’s rule in 2004-2012, owing to the progress in credibility, independence and professionalism of the Georgian courts.

This progress has been duly reflected in the Resolution 2438 “The honoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia” adopted by the Assembly during the second part of the 2022 ordinary session. Having this in mind, we believe there is no evidence of political motivations in the charges against Mr. Saakashvili other than politically-driven speculations. Therefore, the adoption of language as in amendment 4 represents an unsubstantiated challenge for the Georgian legal system, invites unjustified suspicion against our country in international fora and undermines Georgia’s reform progress in human rights and the rule of law since 2012.

More importantly, the unfounded provisions on Mr. Saakshvili jeopardize the credibility of PACE within the wider Georgian public and erode our efforts to solidify support for the ambitious reform agenda aligned with recommendations of the relevant PACE resolutions.

We remain hopeful that PACE members will in future be guided only by the best interests of the organization and its fundamental values. We stand ready to provide detailed insight on any issue of your interest about Georgia. Please, accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.

Sincerely,

Shalva Papuashvili
The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia

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    According to him, the friendship between the countries was based on the long historical ties and the difficult path that Georgia and Azerbaijan went through after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    "The simultaneous declaration of independence by our countries holds great historical significance, and it is remarkable that our ancestors celebrated the restoration of statehood at the same time 105 years ago. The strong friendship and good neighborly relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan are deeply rooted in our shared history and the challenging journeys we have undertaken to establish strong and independent states after the collapse of the Soviet Union. For the Georgian people, Azerbaijan is not just a neighbor but a close friend with whom we share profound mutual respect and cultural ties. Our relationship extends beyond strategic, political, and economic aspects, encompassing the deep connections between our peoples. The fruitful cooperation between our countries has evolved into a strategic partnership, yielding numerous positive outcomes for both nations. Dynamic cooperation in areas such as trade, economy, culture, and defense has further strengthened our bilateral relations", - Shalva Papuashvili noted.

    According to him, the regional energy and transport projects of international importance started three decades ago, and brought the two states closer economically and politically.

    "Presidents Eduard Shevardnadze and Heydar Aliyev, along with Turkish leaders, achieved remarkable feats by establishing far-sighted projects that revitalized the ancient trade routes. These initiatives have become a vital link between Europe and Asia, contributing to regional connectivity and economic development. However, at that time, some in the West underestimated the strategic importance of the Middle Corridor and the potential threats from Russia. Nevertheless, the wisdom and foresight of our region's people have been validated over time. Today, as the significance of the Middle Corridor continues to grow, our cooperation becomes even more relevant. We are prepared to work together on joint projects to enhance energy transportation routes and promote economic prosperity. I am pleased to see the successful development of parliamentary relations between our countries. In recent years, we have hosted each other's parliamentary leaders, fostering mutual understanding and collaboration. During my recent official visit to Azerbaijan, I had the honor of participating in events commemorating the 100th anniversary of President Heydar Aliyev's birth. This occasion highlighted the tremendous progress achieved by Azerbaijan, which has been further strengthened under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev", - Shalva Papuashvili added.

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    As the Speaker of the Parliament stated, today is not the time to talk at the open door and it is important for the European Union to make a decision to grant Georgia the status of the European Union.

    "Given the prevailing geopolitical scenario, it is crucial for the European Union to take a more serious view of its role in the South Caucasus region. It is time to take a decision regarding Georgia, and it is imperative to understand and make this decision from this perspective. Presently, it is not opportune to discuss the open-door policy, but rather focus on progress. We need concrete solutions that the Georgian people are eagerly anticipating.

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