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Prime Minister criticizes media and NGOs

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 6
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili criticized the media and NGOs last month, during his meeting with students. The PM stressed that despite the government’s encouragement, the media still fails to meet high standards and release unbiased information.

“Media outlets are still engaged in publishing lies. They do not understand their responsibility towards people. Through their activities, media organizations affect politics, people, the business environment and other important fields,” Gharibashvili said.

The PM stressed that the major problem of NGOs is maintaining a balance between justice and injustice. The PM stated that a couple of weeks ago, one high-ranking EU official arrived in Georgia and personally told him that he had a meeting with the leading NGOs and remained surprised, because they said that they were supporting the main opposition party, as it was weaker compared to the leading party.

He told them that NGOs should support neither side. Very often our NGOs fail keep the balance,” he said.

Media representatives state that making such comments regarding media is not part of the PM’s duties. They claim that criticizing the media in any democratic country is interpreted as putting pressure on them.

Media analyst Ia Antadze states that people and not public servants should decide whether they like or dislike a media organization.

“The Prime Minister’s responsibility is to worry about the Georgian people. It’s his responsibility to earn the trust of the people. Likewise, it is up to the media to serve people and the people should decide whether they trust us or not…” Antadze said.

NGOs also criticized the Prime Minister. Eka Gigauri, Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia, called the Prime Minister's criticism about the NGO sector “ungrounded” and "illogical". Gogauri stressed that Stefan Fule met NGO representatives in parliament and during the meeting the United National Movement was not mentioned at all.

“It was said that the opposition is weak and it is very important for the NGO sector and citizens to be active in order to increase the government's accountability and transparency. Mr. Fule said that it was important for the non-governmental organizations not to become like political parties. We have not mentioned any support or assistance, and I want to tell the Prime Minister that if any organization supports any political party, they don’t really talk about it loudly,” Gigauri said.

Head of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Nino Lomjaria, states that the Prime Minister misleads people concerning NGOs and creates the wrong impression among the people about the activities of the sector. Lomjaria is also sure that the Prime Minister meant Stefan Fule, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, in his statement. Lomjaria said that NGOs would write to Fule and inform him about the PM’s statements where he was mentioned.