Kakha Kaladze, Ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party Secretary General and Tbilisi Mayor and Irakli Kobakhidze, Executive Secretary of GD, are visiting Strasbourg, where they are holding meetings with MEPs.
According to Mayor Kaladze, the meetings aim at providing MEPs with information about Georgia’s reforms, as well as the current political processes.
“We had very productive meetings,” Kaladze said following the meeting, adding that “a lot of questions have been asked, and, of course, on our part, explanations have been provided.”
Kaladze noted as well that at the meeting, they also touched upon the recent imprisonment of opposition European Georgia leader Gigi Ugulava.
Based on the official information released by the Georgian Dream press office, the ruling party leaders told MEPs that Ugulava verdict has nothing to do with politics and that misspending of GEL 48 million (USD 17 million) by former Tbilisi Mayor Ugulava is based on evidence.
As stated to the press, in addition to providing MEPs from the main political families with information on Ugulava case, we proposed dispatching MEPs fact finding mission to Georgia to scrutinize/assess the substance&procedural side of this criminal case to ensure full clearity pic.twitter.com/Exyey1vHnw
— Kakha Kaladze (@kakhakala) February 12, 2020
Irakli Kobakhidze added that the MEPs had no questions about the content of the Ugulava case, but rather on its timing, as Georgia is holding parliamentary elections later this year.
Later, at the meeting with MEPs Antonio Tajani (Italy, EPP), Kati Piri (Netherlands, S&D), Sergei Stanishev (Bulgaria, S&D), and Marina Kaljurand (Estonia, S&D), the ruling party leaders suggested establishment of a fact-finding mission into Ugulava’s case.
“They can establish a group comprised of different political spectrum, which will arrive to Georgia and become familiar with the materials over this particular case on the ground, to make sure that this is a grave crime,” Kaladze stated.
- European Parliament Members Slam Georgian Gov’t over Ugulava Verdict
- EU ‘Watches Closely’ Supreme Court Ruling against Gigi Ugulava
GD MPs Kakha Kuchava, Davit Songulashvili, Irakli Beraia who are visiting Strasbourg for the 9th meeting of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee, also attended the meeting.
GD leaders’ Strasbourg meetings coincide with the collapse of electoral reform talks between Georgian Dream and opposition parties mediated by Tbilisi based foreign diplomats. The opposition quit the talks in response to Ugulava’s jailing ruling by the top court.
Earlier on February 13, Leading MEPs on EU-Georgia relations – the Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister (EPP, DE), the Chair of the delegation to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee Marina Kaljurand (S&D, EE) and the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia Sven Mikser (S&D, EE) – released a statement, noting that “the continuation of dialogue between the parliamentary majority and the opposition is vital for reaching a consensus on electoral reform that best reflects the will of the Georgian people.”
The MEPs noted that Ugulava’s incarceration “raises questions regarding the procedure, timing and motivation of the decision.”
Two of the judicial panel members Shalva Tadumadze (former Prosecutor General) and Merab Gabinashvili – who were recently appointed for lifetime tenure – supported the ruling, while Giorgi Shavliashvili, dissented.