12 members of the European Parliament addressed President Salome Zurabishvili in a letter on 7 November which urged the President to consider exercising the powers available to her to pardon imprisoned Mtavari Arkhi TV Chief Nika Gvaramia.
The MEPs’ letter comes in response to the Tbilisi Court of Appeal’s decision on 2 November to uphold Gvaramia’s sentence of 3 years and 6 months in prison. The decision was criticized by the opposition, international partners, media watchdogs, and civil society organizations alike, with calls re-emerging for President Zurabishvili to use her Presidential powers and pardon Gvaramia.
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In their letter, the MEPs highlighted Georgia’s path towards European integration, and while noting that it has not been “an easy one,” emphasized that it “is firmly supported by the vast majority of the Georgian people.”
They pointed out that Georgia’s path to EU candidate status has “opened” recently with its European perspective, while underscoring that the “historic opportunity for Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia was granted due to the immense sacrifices that Ukraine is making, to defend the values on which also EU is built upon, against the Russian war of aggression.”
The MEPs hence stressed that “such an opportunity must not be overlooked and all possible efforts bringing Georgia closer to the EU candidate status and the start of membership negotiation with the EU should be made.”
In that vein, they lamented that Georgia “is widely perceived as a country where politically motivated persecution and imprisonment of public figures critical to the current government is possible,” while reiterating that having political prisoners is “incompatible with a prospective EU candidate country status.”
Spotlighting that the European Parliament condemned Gvaramia’s sentencing on “dubious charges,” the MEPs stressed that the “sentence has been widely perceived in Georgia as an attempt to silence a voice critical of the current Government.”
With the Appeals Court’s latest decision, they added that “this case highlights a persistent mistrust of the Georgian judicial system and the need for increasing independence and impartiality o the judiciary. It also negatively affects media freedom and further induces polarization.”
“We sincerely hope that you will take leadership in bringing Georgia closer to its strategic goal of EU integration,” they concluded.
MEPs Anna Fotyga (ECR, PL), Miriam Lexmann (EPP, SK), Rasa Juknevičienė (EPP, LT), Andrius Kubilius (EPP, LT), Peter Pollak (EPP, SK), were among the signatories.
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