The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on South Caucasus Joao Soares said in a statement on Thursday in connection to legal proceedings against PM Vano Merabishvili and ex-healthcare minister Zurab Tchiaberashvili, that he spoke via phone with Georgian Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili on May 22 and told him that “putting your political opponents behind bars will not help solve any problems, on the contrary, it will create new ones.”
Soares, who visited Georgia earlier this month, said in the statement that he was following the case and that OSCE PA “expects the Georgian authorities to fully comply with their OSCE commitments related to human rights, and the right to a fair, independent and transparent legal process, free from political motivation.”
“Georgia took an important step forward last year, when for the first time in the region, power was peacefully transferred from one political force to another after a sound and democratic electoral process. It is important not to jeopardize this progress. The legal process needs to comply with Georgia’s proclaimed commitment to democracy and European values, and not give rise to concerns about the possible use of state institutions for partisan purposes,” he said.
In the statement Soares said of Merabishvili that he “is running in the internal primary to become a candidate for United National Movement” party in upcoming presidential elections in October. Merabishvili declined to respond when asked during a press conference on May 9 whether he would be seeking or not becoming UNM’s presidential candidate through intended internal party elections.