MEPs Call for Media Freedom in Georgia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Nov.'07 / 21:26

The European Parliament passed a resolution on November 29 calling on the Georgian authorities to “respect the principle of freedom of expression, including freedom of assembly and freedom of the media." The EU has also sent Adam Michnik, a former Polish human rights activist, to help resolve the Imedi TV impasse.

MEPs called on the Georgian authorities “to investigate violations of human rights and the freedom of the media during the past few weeks.”

They did, however, welcome early presidential polls, which, they said, the Georgian authorities  should “ensure [are] free and fair." "Impartial access to the media during the election campaign" should also be guaranteed, they said, and all parties should tone down their statements and engage in constructive dialogue in support of Georgia's “fragile democratic institutions.”

The continued closure of Imedi TV was high on the agenda in talks between Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili and European and U.S. officials. The sides met in Madrid on the sideline of an OSCE Ministerial Council meeting on November 29. According to Mze TV, which is actually owned by MP Davit Bezhuashvili, a brother of the foreign minister, the Georgian delegation was grilled by U.S. and European officials over Imedi's closure.

In Madrid the Georgian foreign minister met with his counterparts from France, Estonia and Belgium - Bernard Kouchner, Urmas Paet and Karel De Gucht, respectively. He also met Daniel Fried, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Bezhashvili, speaking to reporters on November 29 in Madrid, said that the Imedi TV problem would be resolved.

“But it will happen not as some aggressive forces would like it to,” he said, “but through compromise. We do not need a destabilizing factor, which can be abused by this TV company [Imedi TV]. At the same time, we should ensure that all media outlets enjoy freedom.”

Meanwhile, Adam Michnik, the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza - a major Polish newspaper - and founder of the Solidarity movement, arrived in Tbilisi in an attempt to mediate over the Imedi problem.

Michnik, sent by the European Union, met with journalists from Imedi TV and opposition leaders on November 29.

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