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Turmoil over GPB continues

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Thursday, January 9
A group supporting reforms in the Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB) has appealed to parliament members to elect the candidates for the board of trustees of the GPB proposed by the special commission.

Anyone who supports the idea can join the appeal by signing the online form. Stressing that as the members of the Georgian society they are actively watching over the recruitment process of the GPB’s board of trustees, they think that the commission selected by the legislative body for selecting the final candidates for the board membership have dealt with their responsibilities with great success, and have fulfilled the demands of the law and public order by ensuring transparency and impartiality of the process, so that everyone interested in the selection could watch the interviews with all the candidates on air.

“Unfortunately the parliament could not manage to select favorable candidates from the list. The process that had started in a democratic way has been suspended,” the statement released on January 7th reads.

Its authors worry that in case of opening a new competition, it may create the danger of having the candidates selected by the political viewpoints, which will damage both the GPB and the democratic development process of Georgia.

“We call on the MPs to consider the high public interest, achieve hard but necessary consensus, choose the trustees from the selected 27 candidates and vote for release of GPB from the political control once and forever,” the statement reads.

The special commission for selecting the candidates for membership in the GPB Board of Trustees considered applications from 68 candidates, while only 27 contenders have been finally selected. The GPB’s Board of Trustees should be staffed by 9 members: three candidates selected by the parliamentary majority, 3 by the minority, 2 by the Public Defender and 1 by the Adjara Supreme Council.

However, the parliamentary majority named 1 candidate and the minority 2. Finally, 6 candidates were voted on and three were approved. Natela Sakhokia, (named by the Georgian Dream) Ketevan Mskhiladze (named by the UNM) and Marina Muskhelishili (by the Public Defender) were approved in the end.

The process was strongly criticized by NGOs. The Coalition for Media Advocacy released a clip entitled "Do not repeat the mistakes of the previous government," which calls on MPs to choose the trustees from the selected 27 candidates. Various public figures take part in the video clip.

However, the First Parliamentary Vice Speaker, Manana Kobakhidze, said that the GPB board should be selected in such a away to be acceptable to everyone. Kobakhidze said there should not be a difference of opinions about the candidates among the majority, as it deals with a very important and responsible position.

She said the consultations on this issue continue among the parliamentary majority.

"The decision will be made by factions, by the majority and by the minority. So we will discuss, consider and take a decision that is acceptable to the majority, because in this case Parliament makes a decision and it needs to have the majority of the votes required by law," Kobakhidze stated.