Several Georgian Dream leaders criticized EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell following the altercation between United National Movement chair Nika Melia and GD chair Irakli Kobakhidze outside the EU Embassy, as well as over his comments about the alleged surveillance of foreign diplomats in Georgia.
Alleged Surveillance Controversy
Ambassador Hartzell asserted on September 22 that the supposed surveillance “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.”
Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze said on September 22 the EU envoy’s remarks “went slightly beyond diplomatic standards, especially in this pre-election period.” But, the GD chair acknowledged that Georgia’s partners would “of course be interested when there are signs that someone may have been listening to someone else illegally.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture Tea Tsulukiani also expressed her discontent the same over the Ambassador’s comments. Asked by Rustavi 2 TV anchor about the alleged surveillance, the Culture Minister replied the journalist was “speaking like [Ambassador] Carl Hartzell as if everything is confirmed.”
She also called the EU summoning Georgian envoy Vakhtang Makharoblishvili over the issue to its headquarters “really bad, unfortunate.” Minister Tsulukiani said she doesn’t understand why the Georgian Ambassador was called up especially as “no one can confirm the veracity” of the leaked files until the investigation is concluded.
Georgian Public Broadcaster on September 22 cited Vice Parliament Speaker Gia Volski as calling the EU Ambassador’s statement “baffling,” and arguing that the diplomat “knows that the investigation is ongoing and he has no information about where the [leaked] materials came from.”
Altercation between Georgian Dream, UNM Chairs
Kakha Kaladze, GD Secretary General and incumbent Tbilisi Mayor running for reelection, said on September 23 “it is unfortunate that the criminal [Melia] is free because the involvement of certain Ambassadors,” alluding to both Ambassador Hartzell’s and U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s involvement in the EU-mediation that led to the opposition leader’s release from pretrial detention.
Reacting to the incident, GD MP Mikheil Sarjveladze said today Ambassador Hartzell should have “should have come out and told Melia to stop … but instead he was refraining.” He said the EU diplomat, the UNM chair and Lelo’s Badri Japaridze should “clear up with one another who has what role in this performance.” “they offer repulsive actions, which they are popularizing – instead of coming out and saying what Melia dared was unimaginable, they are creating alternative versions,” the governing party lawmaker added.
This article was updated.
- Kobakhidze, Melia in Heated Exchange Outside EU Embassy
- EU Summons Georgian Envoy Over Alleged Spying
- EU ‘Taking Appropriate Steps’ on Georgia’s Alleged Spying on EU Diplomats
- Reports: Georgian Security Spied on EU, U.S. Ambassadors