International Republican Institute’s latest poll of Georgian public opinion shows that over 60 percent of respondents fully support Georgia joining NATO. The survey further shows attitudes regarding the country’s economic, social and political landscape.
The two arrested politicians from the the main opposition party, United National Movement (UNM), is the General Secretary Ivane Merabishvili, who served as Prime Minister in the former government and Zurab Chiaberashvili, former Health and Social Security Minister, and today the Presidential representative in the Kakheti region. They are accused of having employed political activists in government programs prior to the parliamentary elections in October last year.
Wilfred Martens, President of the European People’s Party (EPP) argues that “these arrests are a very serious setback for Georgian democracy since former PM Merabishvili, as Secretary General of the UNM and leader of the main opposition party is a potential candidate for the upcoming presidential elections which will take place in October. ”
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (UNM), whose term will end later this year, compares the situation with the developments in Ukraine, where Viktor Yanukovych after winning the presidential election in 2011 imprisoned his main political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko. Saakashvili argues that the arrests will threaten Georgia’s ambition for membership in NATO and the EU.
“That these charges are politically-motivated are as clear as day,” says UNM’s leader in the Parliament David Bakradze in a comment. The arrests take place in a tense political climate where the new Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili from the coalition Georgian Dream has stated that more arrests of UNM’s politicians are to be expected, most recent in an interview with Le Monde.
During his time as Minister of the Interior 2006-2012 Ivane Merabishvili conducted comprehensive reform of the country’s police forces, which resulted in a major reduction of crime and corruption in Georgia. In 2012 he was Prime Minister.
Zurab Chiaberashvili, with a background as a diplomat, most recently as Ambassador to the Council of Europe and Switzerland, served in 2012 as Health and Social Affairs Minister.
The EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton’s spokesperson states that they follow the developments closely and expect a fair and independent process.
The International Democrat Union (IDU) made the following statement May 27: “The remarkable democratic progress that Georgia made under UNM government now looks to be in danger of reversal. The IDU calls on Prime Mininster Ivanishvili to stop targeting opposition leaders with politically motivated arrests.”
Politicians from UNM have during the last months been exposed to a variety of attacks, including the violent protests on February 8 against a number of the party’s MPs, an attack that the Georgian Dream is suspected to be behind. Moreover, a number of regional party offices have been attacked. So far, no one has been arrested for these acts.
Other groups have been affected by the increased uncertainty as well. On May 17, LGBT activists were attacked by religious extremists. “Freedom of expression is a fundamental democratic value that must be respected, irrespective of personal convictions,” sais Martens in a comment, surprised at the lack of a strong reaction from the government in connection to these attacks.
Wilfried Martens, President of the European People’s Party (EPP) sharply criticizes the Georgian government after the arrests of two leading opposition politicians, the former Prime Minister Ivane Merabishvili and the former Health and Social Affairs Minister Zurab Chiaberashvili. “If these arrests prove to be politically motivated, it may result in the freezing of Georgia’s Association Agreement process,” says Martens in a statement and demands the international community to establish a monitoring mechanism to assess the entire proceedings before the presidential election this fall. (more…)
The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday that they have arrested two leading politicians from the opposition, UNM’s General Secretary Ivane Merabishvili, who in 2012 was the country’s Prime Minister, and before that Minister of Interior Affairs and Zurab Chiaberashvili, former Minister for Health and Social Affairs and the President’s representative in the Kakheti region. (more…)
May 3-6, the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation arranged this year’s Spring School, a conference on ideology with young politicians from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus and Sweden. The conference was held in Nynashamn, south of Stockholm, and topics such as democracy, market economy and human rights were discussed, as well as more practical issues about further EU enlargement and the situation in the Eastern Partnership countries. (more…)
The President of the European People’s Party (EPP), Wilfried Martens, and the Vice President of the EPP and Chairman of the EPP Group in Euronest, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, made a critical statement regarding the recent violent acts in Georgia against parliamentarians of the United National Movement (UNM). (more…)
Barely a month after the parliamentary elections defeat of the Georgian party, United National Movement (UNM), around 20 members from the youth organization gathered in the Georgian capital Tbilisi for a conference organized by Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation, October 26-28, 2012. The name of the conference was the “Role of the Youth Organization”, but the loss of elections partly reshaped the focus of the conference. (more…)
October 1, parliamentary elections were held in Georgia. The Swedish moderate MP:s Elisabeth Björnsdotter Rahm and Margareta Cederfelt analyse an aggressive election campaign and an uncertain future for Georgia. (more…)
When the election results were presented earlier today, they showed that the governing party United National Movement (UNM), led by President Mikheil Saakashvili had been defeated by Bidzina Ivanishvili and his party coalition, Georgian Dream.
The pro-EU and Western friendly party UNM with Saakashvili as leader has formally ruled Georgia since January 2004. Saakashvili was known to the world for the Rose Revolution in the autumn of 2003 when he stepped into the House of Parliament after President Eduard Sjevardnadze had been re-elected due to rigged elections, and interrupted Sjevardnadze’s opening speech. To show that the protest was peaceful, Saakashvili carried a bouquet with red roses. A few months later he had formed a government.
Between August 18-22, the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation arranged this years second Summer School, an ideology conference for young politicians. Young politicians from four of the countries in the EU:s Eastern Partnership, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Belarus participated, as did a number of Swedish youth politicians. (more…)