Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili hosted Ambassadors of EU countries at a working lunch, discussing the current situation regarding the fulfillment of the 12 EU conditions necessary to attain EU candidate status and the implementation of related reforms. The prime minister also updated the Ambassadors on the steps to be undertaken before October, when the European Commission is expected to release the report with recommendations on granting the EU candidate status to Georgia. According to the Government Administration, the meeting was held upon the request of the EU ambassadors. The EU still needs to comment on the meeting with the prime minister.
While the prime minister enjoyed working lunch with the EU Ambassadors in Tbilisi, his foreign minister Ilia Darchiashvili arrived in Brussels, where he had already met with EU commissioners for neighborhood and enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi and home affairs, Ylva Johansson. Implementing 12 EU conditions, related reforms, and requirements of a visa-free regime were topping the agenda of Brussels discussions. “All political forces need to cooperate to move the reform agenda forward,” tweeted Oliver Varhelyi after the meeting. As part of the trip, Darchiashvili’s encounters with the other leaders of the EU and NATO are also scheduled.
Recently released, U.S. State Department’s 2022 report on Georgia highlighted a broad spectrum of “significant human rights issues,” including severe problems with the independence of the judiciary, along with investigations and prosecutions widely considered to be politically motivated, arbitrary, or unlawful interference with privacy; severe restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence and threats of violence against journalists; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; and crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting LGBTQ persons and activists.”
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili downplayed the US State Department’s Human Rights report, regretting its “biased” and “unfair” conclusions provided by “politically engaged” “so-called elite NGOs. “These facts are only not true; these are mere speculations “based on false, made-up, fabricated information. This is of no interest to us,” Garibashvili said and yet again slipped into ten-year-old memories of the Saakashvili period.
Ruling of the Day
The Tbilisi Court of Appeal upheld the first instance verdict against Davit Kezerashvili, former Minister of Defense of the United National Movement government and founder of the “Formula” television company, ordering him to pay 5,060,000 euros to the Ministry of Defense. In its earlier decision, a lower instance court found Davit Kezerashvili guilty of embezzling more than 5 million euros.
As Kezerashvili denies the charges, his lawyer, Giorgi Gelkhauri, warns against the government’s attempt to seize Formula TV’s assets and stifle freedom of expression. The Ministry of Defense itself denied an accusation, saying it had no plans to freeze Formula TV’s assets.
In various years, Kezerashvili has served as the chief of financial police and defense minister in Saakashvili’s government, later moving into the private sector. In 2012, after the change of government, several different criminal cases were brought against him. He was acquitted in absentia in two of them. In 2014 the French courts and in 2016, the British courts refused to extradite him to Georgia.