President Salome Zourabichvili and H.E. Armen Sarkissian, President of the Republic of Armenia, held a face-to-face meeting, followed by an expanded format meeting, after which they issued statements at a joint press point. Below is President Zourabichvili’s statement.
“Mr. President, I am glad to host you in our country. This visit was planned long ago and unfortunately could not be carried out. The pandemic and the conflict in the region have greatly hindered us and we have not been able to organize this visit so far, so I am very happy to have the opportunity to receive you today at the Orbeliani Palace.
“Since our last meeting, we have faced very difficult challenges in the Caucasus.
“On the one hand, the pandemic affected the economies of all three countries, shutting down the world and claiming human lives. However, the casualties caused by the war were much greater for the region and the individual country. I would like to express my condolences and sympathies to the families of those killed during this war, Mr. President.
“As it was during the conflict, Georgia is on the side of peace. As a sign of this, our offer for a platform for meetings, dialogue and to ease the situation remains in place.
“I briefed the President of Armenia, Mr. Sarkissian, on the situation in the occupied territories of Georgia, including illegal borderization, kidnappings, human rights abuses, and the aggravated humanitarian situation and escalations during the pandemic.
“We all understand that any conflict in the region affects the whole region, so peace and cooperation have no alternative for the development of the Caucasus.
“Given the importance of stability in the region, we also discussed the alarming situation in Ukraine. The Black Sea region (and not only) is threatened with escalation and destabilization. We understand how important de-escalation is today for this region as well.
“We discussed the unique future economic potential of our region, with increased interest from various external actors, new plans or platforms. All this proves the great importance of this region. However, the role of the Caucasus countries remains crucial. The countries of the Caucasus must jointly define their future, considering the Caucasus in terms of its transit and other potential, I see it only as an open region.
“The implementation of large-scale projects to bring Asia and Europe across the Caucasus and the Black Sea requires the active participation of the EU, one of the main players, together with everyone and other stakeholders.
“It is important for the EU to be involved in the final settlement of the conflict, as well as in the implementation of following infrastructure plans within the Eastern Partnership.
“We also talked about our bilateral relations to strengthen and implement economic, touristic, and cultural projects.
“We are also proud of the fact that the Georgian citizens of Armenian origin have all the means to preserve the language and culture of their ancestors in this country. At the same time, more needs to be done, mainly by the State, so that they can fully master the state language and thus be able to integrate fully and participate in the economic or political development of the country.
“I am very happy with your visit today. We also discussed some of the initiatives that can be taken at our level, how to encourage business actors to start thinking and working together on specific projects. This will arouse the interest of investors not only for each country but also collectively, as such a format may be much more attractive.
“We started discussing this today, which will continue and which we will give a specific form. I have high hopes for this.
“Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your visit, and I am happy that such a close, friendly relationship has been and will be maintained over time!”
In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.
Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.
We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;
Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;
Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;
Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 52nd Round of the Geneva International DiscussionsTuesday, 30 March 2021 14:17
In the frames of the negotiations the Georgian delegation talked extensively about the historic Judgment of the European Court of Human rights, which creates a significant international legal instrument in the process of peaceful conflict resolution. Participants from Georgia underlined that the Court established the Russian Federation’s effective control over and occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia and hence ruled the Russian Federation’s responsibility for the human rights violations during the August 2008 War and the subsequent period of occupation. The Georgian delegation stated that the ECHR underlined the Russian Federation’s responsibility for ethnic cleansing of Georgian population and for hampering the implementation of the right of return of IDPs and refugees. The Georgian participants also pointed to those parts of the Judgment which highlight the non-compliance with the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by the Russian Federation and its continuous large-scale military presence in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia in violation of the undertaken obligations.
Significant attention was paid to the increased militarisation and regular military exercises in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia, continuation of the creeping occupation in the territory adjacent to the village Chorchana, as well as Russia’s intensified use of the hybrid war instruments, which serves for the destabilisation of the situation in the country.
An important part of the negotiations was dedicated to the grave humanitarian and social-economic consequences of the restriction of freedom of movement along the occupation line. Dire conditions of the residents of Gali and Akhalgori districts as well as of the Codori Gorge was stressed in this context. Fatal results entailed by hampering medical evacuations was emphasised and necessity of unimpeded access to healthcare services of people living in the occupied territories was underlined. Georgian participants raised the issue of restriction of freedom of movement of Tamar Mearakishvili, the activist from Akhalgori district, who had not been allowed to cross the occupation line and visit her family by Tskhinvali occupation regime for years.
The talks also focused on ethnic discrimination of Georgians remained in the occupied territories, grave consequence of the restriction of education in native language, as well as crucial importance of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of local population. The Georgian delegation pointed to the increased attempts of russification and isolation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions from the rest of Georgia.
It was highlighted that the impunity in the cases of murder of David Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria and Archil Tatunashvili encouraged ethnically based violence and crime. The Georgian delegation once again raised the issue of the necessity for execution of justice in the mentioned cases.
The emphasis was made on the need for access of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), as well as international human rights organisations in Georgia’s occupied territories. The necessity for ensuring unimpeded humanitarian support for the conflict-affected people during the COVID-19 pandemic was stressed, which in its turn represents one of the main obligations under the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
Extensive talks were held on the efficient use of the negotiations formats, including the need for regular and proper functioning of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs). In this context the necessity of unconditional resumption of Gali IPRM and unhindered work of Ergmeti IPRM was underlined.
The necessity of adequately addressing problems and needs of conflict-affected and IDP women was highlighted in both working groups and the importance of amplification of “Women, Peace and Security” agenda in peace negotiations was underlined.
Active discussions were held on the major agenda items such as non-use of force and establishment of international security arrangements. The Georgian delegation underlined crucial importance of reiteration and implementation of the non-use of force obligation by Russia in light of Moscow’s continued use of force and threat of use of force against Georgia through its illegal military presence and regular military exercises in the occupied territories. The Georgian participants stressed that the only guarantee for the ceasefire and non-use of force was the deployment of international security mechanisms in the occupied territories, which would have been a milestone in the process of lasting peace and security on the ground. Georgian participants made emphasis on the issue of implementation of EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by Russia, as well as demanded withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from the territory of Georgia and deployment of international security mechanisms on the ground.
Active exchange of views took place on one of the major agenda items like safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees expelled as a result of ethnic cleansing from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. Despite the attempts of the Georgian delegation for non-politicised discussion of the issue the Russian Federation and the representatives of the occupation regimes once again tried to use this topic for political manipulations and left the negotiations table during the discussions on this agenda item.
The next round of the GID will be held on 29-30 June 2021.
Geneva International Discussions were launched on the basis of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. Discussions are held within the frames of two Working Groups, where participants are represented in their individual capacity. In the first Working Group talks are focused on security and stability in the occupied territories of Georgia, while in second Working Group – on humanitarian and human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as on the issues related to safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees to the places of their origin. The discussions are held with Co-Chairmanship of the EU, UN and OSCE, and participation of Georgia, the Russian Federation and the USA. The Head of the Provisional Administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, as well as the representatives of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali occupation regimes also attend the Working Groups.
As part of the United States’ commitment to strengthening the Georgian Defense Forces (GDF), Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Commanding General, made an official visit to Tbilisi. Minister of Defense Juansher Burchuladze welcomed Gen. Cavoli March 15-17 and reaffirmed the shared commitment to security cooperation.
The visit provided an opportunity for Gen. Cavoli and Minister Burchuladze to discuss regional security challenges, mutual security cooperation initiatives and perspectives of future cooperation. Joint training and exercises were highlighted, including plans for upcoming multinational exercise Agile Spirit, which is scheduled to be held in the summer of 2021 in Georgia.
Gen. Cavoli also met with Georgian Chief of Defense Major General Giorgi Matiashvili and discussed the successful progress of the GDF within the Georgia Defense Readiness Program (GDRP), which focuses on enhancing Georgia’s ability to staff, equip and train its forces, as well as post-GDRP security cooperation priorities. Gen. Cavoli praised the growing leadership role and enhanced capabilities of the Georgians in the U.S. - Georgia military relationship.
In addition, Gen. Cavoli visited the Vaziani training area where the GDRP –Training (GDRP-T) team focuses specifically on enhancing Georgia’s ability to train its forces. The Georgian Defense Forces maintain a high-level of training for its international missions and the GDRP-T mission enhances Georgia’s interoperability and strengthens the country’s territorial defense capabilities. U.S. and Georgian forces are proud to serve side-by-side in the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and around the world.
Press Service of the MOD
As the public is aware, due to the secret recordings disseminated by TV Pirveli, on March 9, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Georgia launched an investigation into unauthorized recording of and/or eavesdropping on a private conversation, as well as recording private communication, illegal using and dissemination of information obtained through technical means – the elements of the crime contrary to Article 158 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
On the same day, based on the motion of the Prosecution Service, which concerned the content of the television report on TV Pirveli, Tbilisi City Court issued a warrant on seizing the device from TV Pirveli, which had the recordings of private conversations used in the show “Nodar Meladzis Shabati” on March 6.
On March 10, before said court warrant was delivered to the TV company by post, the Prosecution Service had a phone conversation with one of the employees of TV Pirveli, during which they were informed that the court warrant would be sent by post for execution and that they could provide the investigation with the materials requested by the court warrant by the form and at the time and the place convenient for them. They expressed readiness to cooperate with the investigation in the matter.
We would like to emphasize that the publicly spread information that the Prosecution Service is going to enter the TV company by force is false and serves the purpose of intentionally misleading the society. This is also proven by the fact that the court issued a warrant only on seizing the device having specific electronic information and not searching the office of the TV company.
It is significant that in accordance with the procedural law, the TV company and its journalists have the right not to hand over to the investigation an item, a document or another object having the information important to the case. However, the Prosecution Service of Georgia hopes that TV Pirveli will cooperate with the investigation and will provide us with the secret recordings aired by it, so that the relevant examinations for establishing the authenticity of said recordings can be ordered promptly and all the required investigative and procedural actions can be conducted.
Despite the position expressed by TV Pirveli about the court warrant, if they wish to cooperate with the investigation, they can submit the secret recordings in their possession and the device having electronic information to the Prosecution Service at the time they find convenient.
We would like to explain once again that the goal of the investigation is to ensure rapid obtaining/reception of the secret recordings aired by the TV company, so that the relevant examinations for establishing their authenticity can be ordered in a timely manner and all the required investigative and procedural actions can be conducted. Cooperation with the investigation on the TV company’s part is essential in this process.
Following the arrest of Nikanor Melia, Chairperson of the United National Movement - the largest opposition party in Georgia, political polarisation in the country has regrettably further deepened. This polarisation risks undermining Georgia’s democracy. The European Union urges all parties to step up efforts to de-escalate and come together to find common ground.
Starting with those in power, we expect the Government to provide inclusive leadership, putting the interests of the Georgian people first. A fair, independent and accountable judiciary is also paramount. The European Union will remain very attentive to developments in this regard.
It is crucial that the opposition plays a constructive role, including by joining the Parliament, to further consolidate democracy and the rule of law in Georgia, and to help shape the country’s reform path.
Political stability, with all sides avoiding provocative actions and rhetoric, an inclusive parliamentary process, as well as a judicial system that enjoys the trust of the Georgian citizens are prerequisites for Georgia to further deepen its partnership with the EU in line with the Association Agreement.
The European Union stands ready to continue supporting Georgia in this endeavour.
Together, we must ensure the consolidation of our statehood and independence - says the prime minister of GeorgiaWednesday, 24 February 2021 13:19
The Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili made a statement, which we propose without change:
"My dear compatriots, We all have a homeland in common; we are the children of one country.
Georgia is facing challenges of the utmost importance today. The pandemic has further complicated the already difficult economic and social situation of our country and our people. We are also facing significant geopolitical challenges, as well as foreign policy goals.
We must all unite around these goals and challenges, regardless of our political beliefs and views.
One hundred years after the loss of the independence of the First Republic of Georgia and the Sovietization of Georgia, we must once again remember that the state and its independence are the greatest achievements for every one of us. Our statehood is also a necessary condition for Georgia's Western integration. Therefore, protecting the state and its laws is a duty and a responsibility shared by each and every one of us.
Yesterday, I presented the future vision of the government in the Parliament of Georgia. However, against the backdrop of a deliberate, insulting campaign against law enforcement officials - the hero police officers - I mainly had to talk about the destructive actions of the opposition, in addition to our common goals and challenges.
Today, the Ministry of Internal Affairs enforced a law, which was a necessary condition for the reduction of radicalism in politics and the establishment of fair relations.
The people's reaction to the enforcement of the law has confirmed that the rule of law is the main priority for the Georgian public. However, we are not counting the number of people gathered for the demonstration. Every citizen of our country is precious to us.
Today, now that the law has been enforced and the state has taken its due place, I would like to call on all political forces who hold the country dear to open a real and earnest dialogue and to talk not about what divides us, but about what must unite us.
Against the backdrop of the challenges facing the country, it is time for dialogue, not confrontation. I propose that all reasonable opposition forces enter Parliament, so that we may use the country's legislature as the main platform for discussion. As I mentioned yesterday, we are ready for real dialogue at any time and in any format.
Together, we must ensure the consolidation of our statehood and independence, the further strengthening of the democratic system, the overcoming of social and economic problems, and Georgia's integration into the European Union and NATO.
Our country has no time to lose.
Today is not the time for division - it is the time for unification.
May God be our protector!", - says the prime minister of Georgia.
The United States Embassy is deeply concerned by the government’s decision to detain the head of a major opposition political party at the party’s headquarters this morning. We regret that the call of the United States and other international partners for restraint and dialogue was ignored. We are dismayed by the polarizing rhetoric from Georgia’s leadership at a time of crisis. Force and aggression are not the solution to resolving Georgia’s political differences. Today, Georgia has moved backward on its path toward becoming a stronger democracy in the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.
The decision of Tbilisi City Court Judge - Nino Chakhnashvili announced on February 17 of the current year, to use the norm of detention against Nikanor Melia has been executed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs – Nikanor Melia is detained.
The law enforcers warned the citizens gathered in front and inside the office of the “United National Movement" located on the Kakheti Highway, Tbilisi, not to obstruct the representatives of the police in the execution of the court decision and gave a reasonable time.
Despite numerous warnings from the side of the Ministry on the spot, the gathered demonstrators at the party office did not obey the lawful request of the police and offered resistance to the law enforcement officers.
Thus, the police applied coercive measures and special means provided by law to enforce their official duties entrusted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the court.
Nine months ago, I made a personally difficult and painful decision for society that was aimed at maintaining state stability, and served to defeat a political crisis and polarization.
Unfortunately, polarization, tensions and confrontation continue to increase on a daily basis. Putting the electoral results declared legitimate under question, using any type of disobedience, encouraging social and public protests serve to weaken and destabilize the country.
This can lead to dire consequences - losing public confidence in democratic institutions is tantamount to setting a crushing precedent, not only for us but for democracies stronger than us. Respecting the election result and acknowledging loss is the cornerstone of democracy! The rejection of these democratic principles pleases only those forces, inside and outside the country, who put their political ambitions above the interests of the country and those in the region who perceive Georgia’s stability and democracy as a threat.
Today, I held a meeting with representatives of the diplomatic corps and discussed the current situation in detail. I believe that there is a need for immediate de-escalation of the situation and easing of tensions, which need, first of all, a real constructive dialogue, so that these processes do not damage the stability of the country and its international image.
Through my experience, I am ready to support all forms of dialogue, but I am convinced that compromise is only justified when both sides are ready for constructive dialogue and not when concessions are perceived as weakness, or even more so when it can be seen as someone's own victory. Constructive dialogue is also opposed to the imposition of preconditions and the radicalization of processes.
I, as the guarantor of this country’s independence, sovereignty, Europeanness, democratic development and therefore stability, reflecting on the interests of the country and of every citizen, believe that we will all be victorious through calm and development.
I hope that the Prime Minister-nominee and his future government will be able to end this severe process and will not allow anyone to put personal political ambitions above the country’s interests and endanger those institutions that are the foundation for a democratic and legal state.