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EU and US Ambassadors: Nika Gvaramia’s Pardon is up to Georgia’s President

The European Union Pawel Herczynski and US Ambassador Kelly Degnan talked to the media about the need for judicial reform in Georgia, President Zurbishvili’s authority to pardon Nika Gvaramia, and the proposed investigatory commission to be established in the Parliament after the Skill Week’s event on April 24.

EU Ambassador Pawel Herczynski

Pawel Herczynski expressed the European Union’s commitment to helping the Georgian people acquire the necessary skills to meet the demands of the local labor market. Regarding the allegations against Davit Kezerashvili, Herczynski stated: “In case there are any illegal criminal activities ongoing, those activities should be investigated and those who are responsible should be brought to justice.”

When asked about the case of the “Mtavari Arkhi” founder Nika Gvaramia and how if he and the EU have an expectation of the President Zurabishvili to pardon him, he noted: “It is for the President of Georgia to decide to pardon or not to pardon Mr. Gvaramia, and in fact, this is her constitutional right to pardon anyone she wants to pardon. So, I have nothing to comment”. As to whether or not his case affected the EU aspirations of Georgia, he noted that media freedom is one of the 12 EU priorities and that “professionalism, independence, free expression is one of the principles on which European Union is based. So, we are watching this and other cases very carefully. There is still time for the European Commission to draft its assessment in the form of the enlargement report,”- he added noting that the report will be published in October this year and and the decision on Georgia’s next step will be taken in December.

The Ambassador addressed the proposed investigative commission and the sanctioning of judges, which has been rejected by the ruling party but advocated by the opposition. He stated: “It is for the Georgian political parties to decide how to move forward on our side clearly, we support and we ask for a profound reform of the judicial system so it is fully professional and fully independent.” He noted, that the EU is working with the Georgian Ministry of Justice to implement new reforms to ensure the judiciary’s complete independence and professionalism. He acknowledged that these reforms are demanding and challenging but emphasized that there is still ample time to make significant progress.

US Ambassador Kelly Degnan

When questioned about designations for individuals associated with the Georgian judiciary and US study tours for judges, Kelly Degnan commented that the US study tours enable Georgian judges to learn from their American counterparts, exchange best practices and knowledge. She noted that the programs are open to all qualified judges who stand to benefit from these exchanges and bring back new ideas to their courtrooms. However, she stressed that judges must have the time and interest to participate in these programs.

When asked about the investigatory commission, Kelly Degnan emphasized that Parliament established such commissions to investigate crucial issues that demand greater transparency and information to keep the people of Georgia informed and hold individuals accountable. She added that this mechanism is useful and commonly utilized in many Parliaments, including the US Congress. “I think it’s a very useful technique that’s been a mechanism that’s used in many different Parliaments, including the US Congress. We would hope that Parliament and Members of Parliament would make full use of these tools that they have created in the interest of their citizens” – she stressed.

Regarding the Helsinki Commission’s call for the release of Nika Gvaramia, Degnan noted that the commission is a well-respected organization with a mandate from the US Congress to monitor human rights worldwide, including media freedom. “They have been clear, as have many others, including our Embassy, on concerns about Mr. Gvaramia’s case, including the original charges, the timing of the charges, and then subsequently the conviction and decision,” – she said. However, she asserted that “any decision regarding pardoning is solely up to President Zurabishvili, and I’m sure she takes all of the requests—such as those from the Helsinki Commission—into consideration in making her decisions”. 

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


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