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NGOs detect political motivation regarding GPB

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 31
Local NGOs state that the ongoing process concerning the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) is politically motivated and raised several questions. NGOs doubt that the Georgian Dream administration wants the board to be composed by its supporters.

The Georgian parliament failed to vote for full membership of the candidates contending for seats on the Board of Trustees of the GPB on December 27. Only three candidates were approved from the named 6, when there should be 9 members on the board.

A special commission composed of civil sector members represented a list of 27 candidates vying for 9 seats on the board. The parliamentary majority and United National Movement (UNM) minority should have named 3 candidates; two candidates should have been named by the public defender and the last one by the Adjara Supreme Council. However, the parliamentary majority named 1 candidate and the minority 2. Finally, from the presented 6 candidates only three were approved.

Natela Sakhokia, (named by the coalition) Ketevan Mskhiladze (named by the UNM) and Marina Muskhelishili( by Public Defender) were approved in the end.

Coalition For Media Advocating, which unites 11 NGOs including the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and Transparency International Georgia, emphasized that the processes ongoing regarding the GPB raise serious concerns.

“We doubt that the process is politically motivated, and through declaring another competition for the board of trustees, the leading force will try to compose it with its desired candidates,” the NGOs said, noting that the commission working on selecting the candidates had worked impartially and transparently.

“It would not have been difficult for the political parties at the parliament to select 6 candidates from the 27 candidates,” the coalition states.

Media analyst and a member of the commission, Zviad Koridze, claims that the situation regarding the GPB is obviously politically motivated, and aims at taking control of the broadcaster from the government’s side.

“If the process continues as it is now, it will be a sign that there is no culture of parliamentarianism in our country,” Koridze states.

The chair of Journalist Charter, Tamar Rukhadze, shares the same aspiration. She stresses that the statements made by the ruling team, as well as by the parliamentary minority, proves that the ruling team does not wish to “make the broadcaster free.”

“The parliament had a chance to compose the board with such people who were selected through an impartial competition, but the legislative body failed,” Rukhadze states.

Specialist of public communications, Archil Gamzardia, states that the competition for the positions should be newly declared and management specialists should be members of the commission, which work on selecting the candidates.

Member of the coalition Georgian Dream Tina Khidasheli states that the Georgian Dream had too little time – just 24 hours– to achieve consensus on three candidates with all the member parties of the coalition.

“Nowhere is it written that all candidates should be named in the first round of discussions,” Khidasheli stated.