Giga Bokeria, Secretary of National Security Council (NSC) and President Saakashvili's national security adviser, said that PM Ivanishvili was not ready at this stage to accept, as he put it, "minimal red lines of democracy" and slammed the PM for having a stance, which he said, was "alarming" for Georgia's democracy.
Bokeria was in particular referring to PM Ivanishvili's remarks made during his lengthy press conference on November 22. Ivanishvili said that instead of showing remorse, President Saakashvili's UNM party kept on "lying" by insisting that recent series of arrests of senior officials from the previous government were politically motivated and by doing so further "irritating" people. Ivanishvili said that UNM was “insulting” the Georgian public by claiming that arrested former defense and interior minister Bacho Akhalaia was a political prisoner; he said such claims were “violence on our consciousness.” He also said that “people are queuing up to the prosecutor's office” to file complaints about alleged wrongdoings committed by the previous authorities. Ivanishvili said that “these queues wont’ get smaller” in the condition when UNM kept on claiming that the recent arrests were politically motivated. “Let them [UNM] at least change their rhetoric and stop lying in order to make those queues at the prosecutor’s office smaller,” the Prime Minister said.
"What we've heard at PM's press conference is extremely alarming signal for our democracy," Bokeria said in response later on the same day. "The following has actually been said very openly, directly and explicitly: motive behind the arrests of political opponents, those who are affiliated with UNM, is not struggle for justice and investigation of specific crimes, as we have been hearing sometimes in public statements, but irritation by existence of UNM as a political opposition, by the fact that the political opposition speaks out and criticizes the new government."
"It was said directly that people are irritated by [UNM's] rhetoric," Bokeria said and described PM Ivanishvili's remarks as "disastrous".
Former PM Vano Merabishvili, who is now general secretary of UNM, said that PM Ivanishvilis' remarks were "a blackmail" against his party. Merabishvili said that UNM would not change its rhetoric and added that it was Ivanishvili himself, who had to change the rhetoric.
Also on November 22, PM Ivanishvili said during a press conference that as part of political cohabitation process, a working group which was set up by the both sides – UNM and Georgian Dream during the government handover, was still holding meetings. He, however, said this working group “cannot serve as a major mechanism for our cooperation.”
Ivanishvili said that Bokeria, who is in this working group, was trying “to draw some red lines about how one should treat another”. “Not this working group, but justice and laws will be basis for our cooperation... This [working group] is not for making agreements with Bokeria about whom the prosecutor's office should or should not arrest,” Ivanishvili said.
In response to these remarks Giga Bokeria said: "I want to explain to the Prime Minister, his team and the society, that these are not anyone's personal red lines, these are minimal red lines of democracy. It means that when a political force wins election... and comes into power upon the will of voters, it does not in any way mean that a political force, which has lost in election, has to be vanished."
"It does not mean that a political force, which has lost in election, should no longer criticize the government. That's the minimal red line - something that Prime Minister Ivanishvili and his team, regrettably, do not seem to understand and do not want to accept at this stage," the Secretary of National Security Council said.
Bokeria also said that PM Ivanishvili's remarks, also made during a press conference on November 22, about his television station, Channel 9, and the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), were "shocking acknowledgement" of PM's willingness to merge these two broadcasters. Bokeria said that PM's remarks proved that ongoing tax probe into the GPB was "a false" pretext behind Ivanishvili's real intentions to take over the public broadcaster.
PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said that he would "donate" his television station,Channel 9, to the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) if and when the latter turns into “a genuinely public broadcaster” or would establish “a truly public television” on the basis of the Channel 9.
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