Swiss Ambassador Weighs in on Ivanishvili, EPP ‘War of Letters’

Swiss ambassador to Georgia, Guenther Baechler, said in his “personal letter” to Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili that “unprecedented and partisan” statements and allegations by some “misguided” members of the European Parliament against Georgia’s new authorities “do not reflect the political reality in Georgia at all.”

The Swiss ambassador’s letter is dated with March 15 and it was first made public after the Georgian government posted it on its website on March 26; the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi also released the letter on the same day.

Ambassador Baechler sent his letter to the PM a day after the latter issued a lengthy open letter to the European People’s Party (EPP) in response to the March 6 address of 23 MEPs, 19 of them from EPP, which has the largest group in the European Parliament. President Saakashvili’s UNM party is an observer member in EPP. In their March 6 address, 23 MEPs accuse PM Ivanishvili of drifting Georgia away from Europe.

The Swiss ambassador writes to the Georgian PM that his March 14 open letter to EPP “is an excellent answer and perfectly expresses the grievances and feelings of the Georgian people.”

“As a Prime Minister you may be obliged to react in clear words to such kind of false attributions to the new and democratically legitimized government of Georgia,” Ambassador Baechler writes. “I would say there is not even a need to respond to such kind of superficial assessments and – as it seems – concerted propaganda of some misguided European MPs.”

“It is interesting to see how much some members of the EPP adapted from ancient Soviet-style propagandistic methods – methods, they would publicly deny of course,” the Swiss ambassador’s letter reads.

It also reads that Georgia “is much freer than it ever used to be in the past and it is much freer than any country in the neighborhood.”  
He writes that in the October parliamentary elections majority decided "to vote the Rose revolutionaries out of office because they were about to leave the democratic path in order to become a rather authoritarian modernization regime."

“One cannot overestimate what the previous UNM government achieved when it managed to eradicate the old system of corruption in Georgia,” the Swiss ambassador says, adding that now the new government was facing a huge task to eliminate “the system of so-called elite corruption including the misspending of taxpayers’ money and the transfer of finances abroad.”

“Between the false alternative of tolerating a culture of impunity on the one hand and blank amnesty for all crimes on the other there is only one ‘red line’. This red line is marked by the law and nothing else but the democratically legitimized and internationally monitored law. The adherence of law helps to avoid several pitfalls and traps such as politicized prosecution, court trials on weak ground, or crusades of revenge. I observe a strong political will on your side to perform according to the law and to internationally established standards,” Ambassador Baechler writes.

He writes to the Georgian PM that his active engagement with the civil society, asking for their advice, "indicates that you are serious about pledges made during and after the elections."

"The performance of the Parliament as well as of the Ministries – after 100 days in office – is quite remarkable, too. The parliament for the first time in Georgian history became a space of real political debates, of sound legislation, and of joint projects of both majority and minority," Ambassador Baechler writes.

He also expresses confidence that PM’s government would spare no efforts to avoid those unspecified mistakes, which had been made by the new authorities. 

“If a government is modest, admits mistakes, searches for improvements, allows media to be critical about governmental actions, ask the civil society for advices and support, then citizens tend to be tolerant and will allow a government to learn from its mistakes. I am confident that you are well aware of mistakes that happened during the last 100 days or so and that you use all your energy and wisdom to avoid such mistakes in the future,” the letter reads.

Swiss ambassador, whose country has acted as a mediator between Georgia and Russia after the two countries cut diplomatic relations following the 2008 August war, also praises PM Ivanishvili’s handling of relations with Moscow, saying that he “managed within a short period of time to change the tone in Georgian relations” with Russia.
The Swiss ambassador also writes that before the October parliamentary elections “some political figures” in Georgia accused him of being “politically biased towards the opposition.”

“Yes, it may be true that I am indeed biased. I never hided that I am biased towards democracy, human rights, and peaceful relations as I always was during my diplomatic and academic career,” he writes. “The choice between political programs, between UNM, GD and eventually other parties has to be made solely by the Georgian citizens and voters themselves – neither by me as a foreign diplomat nor by any European MPs either. If I ever interfered in Georgian affairs I do apologize with the Georgian citizens. I will certainly refrain from doing so again.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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