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EU Summons Georgian Envoy Over Alleged Spying

EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell told reporters today that Georgia’s envoy to Brussels, Vakhtang Makharoblishvili was called up in the EU Headquarters yesterday over alleged spying on EU diplomatic mission, and was demanded the allegations to be “followed up appropriately.”

Ambassador Hartzell asserted that Georgia’s alleged surveillance on diplomats “is questionable from the point of view of Vienna Convention and we would not see it as natural that a close friend and partner like Georgia would be engaged in the activity like that against us.”

He stressed that it is important to keep discussing the nature of surveillance as such “because of the volume and nature of what we are seeing coming out of these records.”

Albeit noting that any security service has an interest to look at threats, including of terrorism or spying, the Ambassador said surveillance “should be used carefully, have to be monitored, and kept under control with appropriate oversight.”

“Because on the other side of this spectrum lies the privacy of individuals, the right to private space and not to be surveilled in an arbitrary manner,” Ambassador Hartzell went on, adding that the entire Georgian political spectrum should engage in drawing conclusions from the leaked files.

“Surveillance society is not what should be part of a democratic society,” he concluded.

Thousands of files, allegedly gathered through the Security Service spying, were disseminated to journalists on September 12-13. Albeit largely focused on the Orthodox clergy, some of these files, Georgian media reported, indicated security agents’ direct or indirect spying on foreign diplomats, including details on conversations of EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell, U.S. diplomats, Israeli Ambassador, and other diplomatic missions.

Peter Stano of the EU’s External Action Service said earlier that spying on diplomats “is a very serious matter since it has implications in the framework of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” and noted “taking appropriate steps.”

The opposition accused the Georgian Dream of governing with “Russian-type methods,” while PM Irakli Garibashvili blamed “fabrication and falsification” on the opposition, mainly the United National Movement, GD’s arch-rival. “This severe campaign, directed against the Church and the government, and now against diplomats, serves only one political, narrow party interest,” PM said.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, also serving as GD Secretary General, said foreign diplomats too should be listened to “if needed.”

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


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