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Media: Estonian PM Pressed Garibashvili over Spying on Diplomats

Russian-language DELFI web portal for Estonia has reported that Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas pressed Georgian counterpart Irakli Garibashvili during December 15 meeting in Brussels over alleged eavesdropping on foreign diplomats.

According to DELFI’s December 16 report, Estonian Prime Minister spoke of the details of the meeting with Eesti Päevaleht, a major daily Estonian newspaper. “I said that it is completely unacceptable that you are listening to us. We are your friends, we do not say anything bad behind your back,” PM Kallas was quoted as saying.

Estonian PM reportedly asked Irakli Garibashvili “how far the probe had progressed, as it was reported earlier it was ongoing. According to the Georgian PM, the case is being investigated, but he did not have a concrete answer.”

“I said that we want to support you and help you, but make it easier for us. Conduct judicial reform, try to overcome the split in society,” PM Kallas was quoted.

Responding to Georgian journalists over the issue, Georgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, who attended meeting between the two Prime Ministers, said “there are no taboo topics among the friends. This was an honest talk.”

According to FM Zalkaliani, PM Garibashvili provided his Estonian counterpart with “comprehensive information” on topics of her interest, including the alleged surveillance case.

“The investigation is ongoing, you know that [the Georgian authorities] had stated the openness for international experts to be involved in the process,” the top Georgian diplomat noted.

Thousands of supposed the Georgian State Security Service (SSG) files were disseminated to media on September 13. Albeit largely focused on Orthodox clergy, some of the files reportedly indicated security agents’ direct or indirect spying on foreign diplomats, including EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell, U.S. diplomats, and employees of other diplomatic missions.

The opposition accused the Georgian Dream government of ruling with “Russian-type methods,” while PM Garibashvili then blamed “fabrication and falsification” on the opposition, mainly the United National Movement, GD’s arch-rival.

“This severe campaign, which was directed against the Church and the government, now against diplomats, serves only one political, narrow party interest,” noted PM Garibashvili.

But GD’s Secretary General and Tbilisi Mayor, Kakha Kaladze asserted “those who need to be listened to, should definitely be, of course, in accordance with law,” including foreign diplomats, “if need be.”

Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, Peter Stano then reacted that “this is a very serious matter since it has implications in the framework of the Vienna convention on Diplomatic Relations.” “We’re taking appropriate steps.”

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


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