PM: ‘I was Advised to Ignore Opponents’ Hysteria’ over Summoning Saakashvili for Questioning

PM Irakli Garibashvili said on March 25 that “the main advice that I received from our European friends” was to ignore opponents’ “hysteric campaign” over summoning of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili for questioning by prosecutors.

UNM opposition party, which is chaired by Saakashvili, said that ex-president’s summoning by prosecutor’s office for questioning over investigations into ten separate criminal cases, represents part of the authorities’ campaign of “political retribution”, which may seriously damage Georgia’s EU and NATO integration process.

“I’ve met number of European leaders; they are all looking forward to signing of the Association Agreement,” PM Garibashvili told Georgian journalists in The Hague where he participates in the nuclear security summit. “We have full support, very strong support… and they are looking with optimism to Georgia’s aspiration to become full-fledged member of the European Union.”

“I want to calm down everyone, who had questions in recent days, that neither former president nor his summoning by the prosecutor’s office interests anyone; hysteria coming from the opponents is understandable, but the main advice that I received from our European friends was to simply ignore [opponents’] hysteric campaign. So everything is developing positively, we have full support,” Garibashvili said and added that this support would be demonstrated in visits of high level European dignitaries to Georgia in coming months.

The U.S. Department of State expressed concern over Georgian authorities’ decision to summon Saakashvili for questioning and said on March 23 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.

Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood wrote on Twitter on March 25 that he’s watching with concern to subpoena Saakashvili. “No one is above law but European practice [and] standards must be followed scrupulously,” he wrote.

On the margins of the nuclear security conference in The Hague the Georgian PM met his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte on March 23; French President Francois Hollande; Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė; Vice President of Brazil Michel Temer; Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble; European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on March 24; Swiss President and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter; Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt; Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg on March 25.


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