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Government on NGOs

By Levan Khutsishvili
Friday, October 5
On October 3, the Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani criticized 13 NGOs who issued a statement regarding Omega's case. According to Tsulukiani, these NGOs have political interests and in fact, they are political parties.

"As for the 13 non-governmental organizations, I'm not going to comment on their unserious statements, because, unfortunately, these organizations are doing their best to discredit themselves with inadequate assessments and inadequate statements, violating all standards - whether legal or ethical. Accordingly, their words mean nothing. This is a great tragedy and problem of this part of the civil sector. I hope until it is not too late, they will try to become more adequate. Since all public segments, the institution needs some confidence from the public, with such statements, they will finally lose this trust if they have it at all. These 13 non-governmental organizations have not only political interests, but actually, they are political parties. Consequently, if they have political ambitions and, which apparently they do, they can be formed officially as political parties. For the Public Registry of the Ministry of Justice, there is a political party register. We are ready to register them as political parties", said Tea Tsulukiani.

This isTea Tsulukiani's response to the coalition of 13 NGO’s that made a statement about Omega Group case on October 1, stating that the country is governed by using informal methods and with the help of criminals. NGOs claim that the recordings and materials spread around the Omega Group have a high degree of conviction and their uniformity indicates that the investigative agencies themselves are under the same informal influence and their trust is low; this is indicating to a serious crisis of democracy. Tea Tsulukiani thinks that just those 13 NGO’s are politically motivated and that there regardless exist some adequate NGOs.

"They are many in Georgia. They are in the villages, in towns, doing what is called a state job. And those 13 non-governmental organizations who violate the presumption of innocence, these organizations who are not paying attention to the facts and most important for them is what their political parties are unacceptable, "said Tea Tsulukiani.

As for representatives of the coalition, they think that government is trying to keep them silent.

"Today the ruling party's message-box was why NGOs did not wait until the completion of investigation and verification of authenticity of recordings. According to that logic, we were wrong when the prison footage was made in September 2012 and we made statements the same evening, it means that we had to wait until Saakashvili's Prosecutor's Office would investigate the case and confirm authenticity. Also, it turns out that nothing should be said about the kidnapping of Afgan Mukhtarli, the spread of secret recordings, the attack on the general auditor and other facts, because no investigation into those high-profile cases has been completed and no results have published", said Mikheil Benidze, executive director of International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy.

Mikheil Benidze believes that the function of the civil sector is to control the government and not let it stay in its comfort zone when there are several serious problems in the state. The civil sector should speak about this problem and ask the government to solve them. And when the government has such a strong reaction on statements of NGO’s, it means that NGO’s are onto a right path.

In fact, 13 NGOs named by Tea Tsulukiani, are the most active non-governmental organizations financed from different international funds and programs, working quite often in cooperation with Georgian government on the development of certain programs and projects. And when the Minister of Justice calls them politically motivated institutions controlled by political parties, it may mean the government questions the intents of international organization and funds, and at the same time is trying to influence it, create and/or intensify negative stereotypes about the non-governmental sector.