The U.S. and the European Union Ambassadors to Georgia, Kelly Degnan and Carl Hartzell respectively, have in separate media remarks called for moving from debates to taking necessary actions to protect the deteriorating health of Mikheil Saakashvili, implying the need to transfer hunger-striking ex-President to a civilian hospital.
Carl Hartzell told reporters on November 19 that “what we have seen in the past 24 hours is another reminder of putting focus on the health situation, which is the concern of the European Union,” referring to Saakashvili temporarily losing consciousness and collapsing on November 18 evening.
“When it comes to current situation, it’s high time to think about moving from deadlock and debate to take appropriate actions to address the situation in a way that we are leading things forward on the basis of national and international obligations,” Ambassador Hartzell stated.
In his remarks, the EU Ambassador also backed the Public Defender, who is under increasing attack from the ruling Georgian Dream party officials over its actions to protect ex-President’s rights and health. The Ambassador stressed that “the EU strongly supports the work of Public Defender, including her work of overseeing the situation regarding Mikheil Saakashvili and upholding his human rights.”
“This also goes to the issue of the need to have objective medical advice for everyone to properly assess [Saakashvili’s] situation and heed to the recommendations that are being made. This is absolutely crucial,” he said, referring to the recommendation made by a group of doctors created by the Public Defender on transferring Saakashvili to civilian hospital.
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On her part, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan told journalists that “when a human life is risk there should be no debate about taking every step possible to provide the care that is needed.” “We are very concerned about his condition.”
Noting that “we put great confidence in the Public Defender and her team and medical team operating under her auspices,” the U.S. Ambssador said “their assessment is that Mikheil Saakashvili’s condition is critical and that he needs full care to respond to emergencies that are more and more likely to occur if he is not in an appropriate facility.”
“There is great attention to this not just in the U.S. Embassy but also in Washington, from others friends in Georgia, like [former U.S.] Ambassador Kelly, who are following situation with some concern, but also it is hard to understand why the measures that are needed to be taken to protect life that is increasingly at risk are not being followed along with the recommendations of medical providers,” Ambassador Degnan concluded.
Saakashvili, who arrived secretly in Georgia in late September after 8 years in exile, was arrested on October 1, on the eve of local elections and has been on hunger strike since. He is convicted in two cases in absentia and faces charges in three more, including illegal border crossing. He denies all sentences and charges as politically motivated. Saakashvili, originally held in Rustavi prison, was forcibly transferred to Gldani prison hospital amid his deteriorating health on November 8. Saakashvili says will call off his hunger strike if treated in a civilian hospital — a move denied by the Georgian Dream authorities, citing, among others, fears that supporters will “liberate” ex-President from a less protected civilian hospital.