Charles Michel’s Cabinet Responds to CSO Concerns over Gvaramia

Frederic Bernard, the Head of the Cabinet of the European Council’s President, responded to the letter addressed to President Charles Michel, which requested that he urge President Salome Zurabishvili to pardon imprisoned Mtavari Arkhi TV chief Nika Gvaramia. While the letter did not comment on the calls for President Michel to speak with President Zurabishvili about the issue, the latter emphasized that they are “closely” following Gvaramia’s case both themselves and through the EU Delegation in Georgia.

The CSOs’ letter was addressed to President Michel on 7 November, soon after the Tbilisi Court of Appeals decided to uphold Gvaramia’s sentence of 3 years and 6 months. The decision was criticized by the opposition, international partnersmedia watchdogs, and civil society organizations alike.

While accentuating that the EU does not comment on the merits of individual cases, Bernard noted that “questions have been raised, including from the Public Defender, about the Court’s reasoning in Mr. Gvaramia’s case, both in terms of conviction and sentencing.”

Bernard underscored that “fundamental rights and due legal process need to be respected, with transparent and fair judicial rulings, in line with the rule of law, and international commitments, including the European Convention on Human Rights.”

He also drew attention to the fact that the EU has “repeatedly called” on Georgian authorities to “engage in an inclusive and comprehensive reform of the judiciary,” while pointing out that it is one of the “cornerstones” of the EU-mediated April 19 agreement and the recently adopted EU-Georgia Association Agenda.

Bernard likewise noted that one of the European Commission’s recommendations for Georgia to attain EU candidate status is for it to undertake “stronger efforts to guarantee a free, professional, pluralistic, and independent media environment, notably by ensuring that criminal proceedings against media owners comply with the highest legal standards.”

In conclusion, he reiterated that the EU “will continue to follow closely the developments and the wider justice reform and stands ready to support all meaningful efforts to implement the needed reforms in order to live up to the European aspirations of its citizens.”

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


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