Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili meeting with representatives of media organizations and non-governmental organizations, March 6, 2017. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili proposed establishment of the Media Ombudsman’s Office tasked to monitor the country’s media environment and its development.
Commenting the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to suspend the enforcement of the Supreme Court’s March 2 decision, which reinstated the ownership rights of Rustavi 2 TV to its former co-owner, Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated that the Government will honor the decision like it honors “the decisions, the recommendations and the ideas of European institutions, which make a special contribution to our country’s democratic development.”
Speaking at his meeting with a group of media experts and non-governmental organizations on March 6, the Prime Minister underlined that the Government “has proven its commitment to democratic values with actions, which has been repeatedly recognized by numerous international organizations and evidenced by international rankings.”
He also emphasized that rule of law, respect for human rights, including freedom of speech and expression, and judicial independence “are the results of our Government’s policy” and remain to be the Government’s “top priority.”
Giorgi Kvirikashvili emphasized that the independence of the judiciary “is a foundational element of a democratic state” and “any interference with its work or disrespect of its decisions is totally unacceptable, as is limiting the freedom of expression.”
“These are the very values that our European friends and partners uphold, such is the principle of European democracy, and we expect the support and the backing from our European partners in building exactly such a state,” the Prime Minister added.
PM Kvirikashvili also stated that “in parallel to protecting the property rights and the independence of the judiciary, no fundamental rights should be violated.”
“Indeed, it first serves our interests, the interests of the Government, to protect our own greatest achievement, freedom of speech and expression and media pluralism. Therefore, there cannot be any doubts about this,” he noted.
“That’s why, I propose to establish the Media Ombudsman’s Office, consisting of the most reputable international media rights activists,” he stated and added that the Office “will monitor Georgia’s media environment and development, including the processes around Rustavi 2, the Public Broadcaster, and the media environment as a whole.”
Kvirikashvili emphasized that the Government “is open to cooperation” and invited European media experts for cooperation.
“We are invested in protecting and empowering our institutions, and we will spare no effort to ensure the development of our country in accordance with the European and democratic values,” he concluded.