Letter of media outlets and civil society to Charles Michel

News | Statements 19 July 2021

Batumi International Conference                                                                                                                                          July 19, 2021

 

 

H.E. Charles Michel, President of the European Council

 

 

Dear President Michel,

 

We are grateful for your engagement and continuous efforts that you personally and the European Union Ambassador have provided in support of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms in Georgia.

 

As we wholeheartedly welcome the spirit of Batumi International Conference of deepening and enhancing existing relations between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, we, the undersigned civil society organizations and media outlets  see your efforts even more important against the backdrop of recent developments in Georgia.

 

The ruling party’s failure to implement the EU and the US-mediated April 19 agreement is likely to further undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary and has already led to harsh criticism by Georgia’s international partners. Despite repeated calls to pause nominations until the adoption of meaningful judicial reforms, the ruling Georgian Dream party approved six Supreme Court judges, ignoring the criticism of local civil society groups, but also that of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

 

The lack of political will to undertake meaningful changes is also true for electoral reforms in the country. Despite the resignation of the Central Election Commission Chair, independence of the election administration remains problematic. Because of high significance of the upcoming municipal elections, and likelihood of serious flaws in them, intense scrutiny by international and domestic stakeholders is warranted.  

 

The unchecked homophobic violence earlier this month was a major setback, undermining fundamental freedoms in the country and questioning Georgia’s democratic aspirations. The Georgian government failed to protect or condoned violence against its citizens by far-right groups, tacitly or openly supported by representatives of the Orthodox Church. The Tbilisi Pride march was cancelled after participants and journalists were violently attacked by far-right mobs, amidst inadequate police protection. The pogroms on the media and LGBTQI community have led to physical injuries of dozens of journalists and media workers, death of a cameraman Lekso Lashkarava, and deep societal trauma. However, it should also be noted that the Georgian media and civil society demonstrated unprecedented solidarity, and a commitment to the freedom of expression and equality in the country. Although police arrested several perpetrators, the organizers of the pogroms remain at large. The ruling party continues attacks on the media and boycotts critical media outlets, flouting Georgia’s obligations on freedom of expression and information.

 

Now more than ever, Georgia’s international partners should stand united in support of democracy and fundamental freedoms in the country. We urge you to continue your close engagement with Georgia’s leadership and speak publicly against democratic setbacks, and work with Georgia’s civil society to ensure the country’s progress on the path to the Euro-Atlantic integration.

 

Sincerely,

 

  1. Alliance of Broadcasters - AB 
  2. Institute for Development of Freedom of Information - IDFI 
  3. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy - ISFED 
  4. Transparency International Georgia 
  5. Georgian Young Lawyers Association - GYLA
  6. Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics
  7. Georgian Democratic Initiative - GDI
  8. Georgian Association of Small and Medium Telecommunication Operators
  9. Rights Georgia 
  10. Open Society Foundation
  11. Georgian Regional Media Association - GRMA
  12. Liberal Academy Tbilisi 
  13. Media Development Fund
  14. Media Rights 
  15. Media Club 
  16. TV Network
  17. Civil Society Institute (CSI)
  18. Democratic Research Institute (DRI)
  19. Human Rights Center (HRC)
  20. Shame Movement 
  21. Social Justice Center 
  22. Sapari 
  23. Partnership for human rights 
  24. Pen Center
  25. Media and Communication Educational and research Center
  26. Independent Journalists’ House 
  27. Green Sector
  28. Mtavari arkhi 
  29. Formula
  30. TV PIRVELI 
  31. TV Kavkasia 
  32. Media Holding Hereti 
  33. Newspaper Batumelebi 
  34. Netgazeti 
  35. Indigo Media
  36. Publika
  37. Tabula
  38. Media Holding Kronika
  39. Media.Ge
  40. Investigative Journalists’ Team “iFact” 
  41. Internews Georgia
  42. Openrustavi.Ge
  43. Media Group Rusavi 
  44. Guriismoambe.com
  45. Metronom.ge
  46. Kutaisi Today
  47. Radio old town 
  48. Dailyunfo.ge
  49. At.ge
  50. FirtsNews.ge
  51. News Agency Expressnews
  52. TV akhali 
  53. TV Odishi 
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