In his lengthy open letter to the European People's Party (EPP) PM Bidzina Ivanishvili called on the EPP to send to Georgia long-term observers and see developments on the ground before voicing allegations against him about closing European doors for Georgia.
PM Ivanishvili’s letter to EPP, which has the largest group in the European Parliament, was released on Thursday amid EPP’s enlarged summit in Brussels on March 14-15.
President Saakashvili, whose UNM party is an observer member of EPP, is listed among the participants of the summit, which also includes several heads of states and governments from EU and non-EU member states, as well as President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of European Commission José Manuel Barroso.
On March 6 twenty three members of European Parliament, 19 of them from the EPP group, sent an open letter to PM Ivanishvili, accusing him of drifting Georgia away from Europe. In a response letter on March 10 the Georgian Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Usupashvili, slammed MEPs for “unsubstantiated claims” and called on them to abstain from signing such statements in order not to feel then “embarrassed” for such action.
PM’s response is the recent one in this series of letters in which he gives his take on Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidency and state of human rights, media, judiciary under Saakashvili’s presidency since early 2004.
“Before making far-reaching assertions about ‘closing European doors’, I urge you… to delegate long-term observers to Georgia and see for yourselves that the will of the Georgian government to ensure democratic governance is unwavering and that our mission implies unequivocal commitment to democratic values,” the Georgian PM writes.
He says that he respects EPP “as one of the largest, influential, and successful political forces in Europe” and also adds that this influence “comes with certain responsibilities, also towards the countries of the European Union neighborhood.”
In his letter, Ivanishvili stresses on constitutional amendment, which is expected to be put on vote in the Parliament this month. According to this Georgian Dream-proposed amendment the President should be deprived of his current right to dismiss the sitting government and appoint new one without Parliament’s approval – the provision, which was included in the constitution in early 2004.
“Do you consider it compatible with democracy to have a president entitled to appoint a government without consulting the parliament?.. If your answer to these questions is negative, then allow me to ask whether you consider it acceptable to have a political entity, instigator and promoter of such as system, as a member of your political family?” the Georgian PM says in the letter to EPP.
He also says that expectations from his government within and outside the country differ.
“Domestically, the Georgian people have been demanding a swift and uncompromising investigation of crimes committed throughout the years. Outside the country, on the contrary, we are called on to start afresh, wiping the slate clean so to speak. This approach, however, in our opinion, would encourage a sense of impunity and do the new government a disservice,” Ivanishvili says. “Our task is to walk on thin ice and find the golden mean that will not hurt the notion of justice and rule of law, on one hand, and will not give anyone an impression of political retaliation, on the other.”