President Saakashvili slammed PM Ivanishvili’s government for engaging in war of letters with the European People’s Party and said that this path would be damaging for the country.
President Saakashvili, whose UNM party is an observer member of EPP, said that tone and rhetoric chosen by PM Ivanishvili’s government would lead the country into “deadlock”.
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”; then PM Ivanishvili sent a separate open letter on March 14 calling on the EPP to send to Georgia long-term observers and see developments on the ground before voicing allegations against him.
On March 13 the presidency of the EPP adopted a declaration, which was made public on March 14 during EPP’s enlarged summit in Brussels in which President Saakashvili also participated. The declaration, as EPP put it, is offering “a roadmap on how to restore the process for [Georgia’s] Euro-Atlantic integration.” It expresses regret that “backward steps” in democratic standards after the October 2012 elections, “damaged the positive image of Georgia” and “endangered” ratification and signature of Association Agreement by the EU member states. It says that respect of democratic standards, freedom of judiciary and media “will enable further progresses in Georgia’s approximation with the European Union.”
On March 15 the Georgian government released a statement, responding to each point that was in the declaration of the EPP presidency; in addition, on March 15 the government also posted on its website a press release which slams the EPP for, as it put it, parroting UNM’s “groundless allegations” against Georgia’s new government. It said that such approach “means that the European People’s Party is not capable of articulating its own political conclusions” about situation in Georgia. Government’s press release also says that “Saakashvili’s allies in the European Parliament, as it seems, choose confrontational tactics.”
In a televised address on March 18, President Saakashvili said that government’s response to EPP was full of “lies”; he said such an approach was damaging for the country especially ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November.
“It’s inadmissible to talk with the major European parties through such letters. It’s inadmissible to fawn on [Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory] Karasin and to blame for all the terrible things the leaders of the European Parliament. It’s inadmissible to swear rudely at the parties of Merkel, Sarkozy, Barroso and at the same time to crawl on knees before the Russian officials sent by third-rate [Gennady] Onishchenko [head of Russia’s state consumer protection agency. This is not a Georgian style,” Saakashvili said.
“Those anti-European forces, which are now operating, will corner us into the situation where we have no other option rather than to crawl on our knees back to our invaders,” he said.
“I want to offer the government to sit down and elaborate a serious concept and to speak with one voice with Europe; but it also implies standing on values which the European choice is based on; these are: democracy; freedom of judiciary; freedom of media,” Saakashvili said.