Senior lawmakers from the Georgian Dream accused President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) of providing NATO Parliamentary Assembly “distorted and one-side” information that resulted into “groundless” criticism of developments in Georgia, among them also involving arrest of former defense minister and two army commanders.
NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said at a meeting of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on November 12 that he was “extremely concerned” over recent arrests of “political opponents” of new government in Georgia.
On the same day NATO Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution on “the Future of Democracy in the Eastern Neighbourhood” part of which also addresses Georgia. Echoing allegations of UNM, the resolution expresses concern over “the reported pressure on local self-government institutions and particularly the Georgian Public Broadcaster and calls upon the new government of Georgia to refrain from politically motivated arrests.”
“It is regrettable that this statement [by the NATO Secretary General] and resolution were based not on information provided by NATO liaison office in Georgia, diplomatic missions of NATO-member states or authoritative international organizations, but, based on distorted and one-side assessments presumably provided by representatives of the United National Movement,” reads the statement by three senior Georgian Dream lawmakers.
The statement is signed by MP Tedo Japaridze, chairman of parliamentary committee for foreign affairs; MP Irakli Sesiashvili, chairman of parliamentary committee for defense and security and MP Victor Dolidze, chairman of parliamentary committee for European integration.
Two of them, MP Dolidze and MP Sesiashvili, were part of the Georgian delegation at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague, who claim that after they had to leave the assembly meeting before it was over, UNM member of the delegation MP Giorgi Kandelaki lobbied actively to include in the resolution paragraphs criticizing recent developments in Georgia.
“Who will believe that I managed to mislead about 350 lawmakers [from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly]?” MP Kandelaki told Rustavi 2 television station via phone on November 13. “After the NATO Secretary General made a very strict assessment over this issue, an amendment was introduced [to the draft resolution] upon the initiative of head of the Norwegian delegation.”
Georgian Dream MPs statement says that although the NATO Parliamentary Assembly resolution calls on NATO-member states to grant Georgia a Membership Action Plan (MAP), it also includes “groundless allegations”, which in overall cast Georgia in negative light.
“Integration into NATO and the European Union is Georgia’s main foreign policy priority, which is determined by the will of the Georgian people and the Georgian government and Parliament are its guarantors. Georgia’s government is disposed to establish principles and norms of international laws, as well as strong, functional democracy, supremacy of law and fundamental principles of human rights and freedoms.”
“We are ready to cooperate over these issues with any political force, including with the parliamentary minority, because we believe that personal and narrow party interests should not prevail over Georgia’s state interests.”
“At the same time, the Georgian Dream coalition was supported by the people with a hope that new government would once and for all put an end to politically motivated persecutions, selective justice, neglect of democratic principles and authoritarian rule established by Saakashvili’s team.”
“Therefore, bringing to justice those, who have been implicated in gross violation of citizens’ rights, abuse of power and misuse of public funds, and strengthening of civilian control over the armed forces are part of our aspiration to establish NATO values in the country and do not represent a persecution of political opponents, as it was portrayed to Mr. Rasmussen,” the statement reads.
“We understand very well that in order to establish NATO standards we need timely advice, recommendations and also fact-based criticism from our friends. For that reason we are ready to cooperate with all the interested party and organization and provide precise and thorough information about any issue,” the statement says.
PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is now visiting Brussels, will met NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on November 14.
Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, said on November 12 that PM Ivanishvili would offer NATO Secretary General to send a team to Georgia that would monitor ongoing investigation into criminal charges brought against former defense minister and two former senior army commanders.