Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said that U.S. Department of State’s statement expressing concern over Georgian prosecutors’ decision to summon ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili for questioning should not be “perceived wrongly.”
He also said that Georgia is not an exception and former leaders of some European states, namely France and Italy, also had to appear for questioning, adding that it would be wrong to demand from Georgia “to be more democratic” than these states.
“No one should demand from us to be more Catholic than the Pope,” Garibashvili said.
The U.S. Department of State said that “no one is above the law, but launching multiple simultaneous investigations involving a former President raises legitimate concerns about political retribution, particularly when legal and judicial institutions are still fragile” in Georgia.
Asked to comment on this statement, Garibashvili, who is now in The Hague for the nuclear security summit, told Georgian journalists: “I think we should not perceive it wrongly.”
“This is kind of an advice, recommendation from a friendly state to carry out this process transparently. I am here for a second day already and no one has raised this issue,” Garibashvili said referring to his bilateral meetings on the sideline of the nuclear security summit; at the time of making these comments the Georgian PM had met European Council President Herman Van Rompuy; Vice President of Brazil Michel Temer on March 24 and Dutch PM Mark Rutte on March 23.
“I cannot understand where this hysteria is coming from. This is absolutely usual, democratic process. Similar thing is happening in the middle of Europe, as you probably know that there were questions towards former French president, I mean Chirac, Sarkozy, and also towards Berlusconi,” PM Garibashvili said.
“So it’s absolutely a normal process. Moreover, the prosecutor’s office is talking about very grave crimes. I think that we have not given any reason for suspicion, on the contrary, we reaffirm that we are guided by [the principle] of transparency and the rule of law is the most important for us. If someone tries to [demand from] Georgia to be more democratic country than France or Italy, I think this is a wrong assessment,” he said.