Concerned ‘Friends of Georgia’ Urge UNM Chair’s Release

In an open letter, the friends of Georgia, including twenty-three international signatories, said they are “deeply concerned by the recent political developments in Georgia,” as well as by the decision “to storm the headquarters of the leading opposition party and arrest its leader.” 

The failure to release Melia and the continued political crisis, with one-party parliament, the signatories said, impedes progress on tackling the issues of security, the economy, and health amid pandemic, but “also damage the international image and reputation of Georgia as a stable partner in the region, and committed to the values underpinning the Euro-Atlantic community.”

The signatories said the Government “as the presiding power, must take the first step by freeing the opposition leader.”

In the missive, the signatories also urged the opposition to make use of opportunities provided by the EU and other potential mediators to negotiate with the ruling party, in seeking “a solution that will enable them to take up their mandates and strengthen Georgia’s democracy.” They further stressed that the opposition has “the right to a fair and open adjudication of their claims of election irregularities.” 

Highlighting that “One of Georgia’s strongest international assets has been the significant amount of goodwill felt towards it,” the letter urged “both the Georgian government and opposition leaders not to squander that goodwill, and to demonstrate their commitment to democracy, dialogue and respect for human rights.”

The signatories include, among others, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrick Ilves; former U.S. Ambassadors to Georgia Ian Kelly, William Courtney, Richard Miles and Kenneth Yalowitz; former EU and UK Ambassadors to Georgia, Per Eklund, and Alexandra Hall Hall, respectively; former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul; former NDI Georgia Director Laura Thornton, as well as Georgia-watcher pundits, including Jonathan Katz, Svante Cornell, Luke Coffey, Francis Fukuyama, Kurt Volker, David Kramer as well as Matthew Bryza, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary. Also signing are Amb. Ian Bond and Carey Cavanaugh, Randy Sheunemann, Glen Howard, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, PEN America’s Thomas Melia.

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


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