EU Parliament Holds an Urgent Debate on Saakashvili Health Condition

On February 2, 2023 the European Parliament held an urgent debate about the condition of the third president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. The debates were initiated by MEP Anna Fotyga amid rising controversy about ex-president’s declining health.

The speakers emphasized that EU is extremely concerned about Saakashvili’s deteriorating health and that full responsibility for his condition lies with Georgian authorities. The Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn, underlined that EU has been closely following, both Saakashvili’s court hearings and health related developments.  

He underlined that EU’s concerns have been raised on several occasions in statements and formal meetings of the EU delegation in Georgia and the representatives of the EU member states with Georgian Ministry of Justice, as well as at a “dedicated meeting” of EU Ambassador with Minister of Justice, and at the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting on 29 September last year. He also underlined that “Saakashvili’s right as a defendant in court should be safeguarded, including the right to present himself in court.”

The Commissioner linked the case to Georgia’s pledge to fulfill its international commitments, such as ensuring the health of all detainees and providing adequate medical treatment in compliance with international standards. He pointed out that “at the current moment the extent to which the medical facilities in Georgia can provide an accurate assessment of the ex-president’s health and the adequacy of healthcare in the country is being contested by different sides” and that he believes that it is in everyone’s interest that Georgian government considers receiving medical expertise from “uncontested international medical organization”. Hann stated that “EU remains fully available to assist their Georgian partners in this matter.”

This position was echoed by other speakers as well who underscored that Georgian authorities carry full responsibility “to take all necessary measures to protect Saakashvili’s health.”

MEP Miriam Lexmann openly condemned the Georgian Government’s actions referring to their treatment of Saakashvili as “shameful “and completely contradictory to their statements about European aspirations.  According to Lexmann, “Games, tricks and delays might stop” and all necessary measures should be taken not to let the former president “die in prison,” reiterating Hahn’s point that Georgian authorities will be accountable if anything happens to Saakashvili.

Markéta Gregorová addressed the case of Saakashvili through the prism of Georgia’s fulfillment of the 12 EU recommendations. In her statement Gregorová advised Georgia authorities to “focus on the political points they are losing rather than the points they might be gaining” by holding Saakashvili in prison, referring to Georgia’s EU aspirations. 

In her short speech, Anna Fotyga similarly appealed to Georgian authorities to release Saakashvili “to be cured abroad for humanitarian purposes. He is dying in prison, she added, and “this will affect the future of Georgia a lot”.

In a similar vein, Moldova’s President Maia Sandu today appealed to immediately release Saakashvili and send him abroad for medical treatment. She stated that “torturing an opposition leader to death is unacceptable for a country that wants to join the European Union”.

Meanwhile, the MFA of Ukraine also addressed the issue by releasing a statement comparing Georgian authorities’ methods to those of NKVD of the USSR and saying that “gross violation of human rights against the Ukrainian citizen goes against the declared course of Tbilisi towards the EU membership and is an evidence of democracy limiting in Georgia”. Ukraine’s MFA appealed to foreign governments and international organizations to “defend publicly the Ukrainian citizen, the former President of Georgia, whose life is in danger due to political repressions by the Georgian authorities.”

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