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PACE gives Georgia another thumbs up

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, March 24
Matyas Eorsi and Kastriot Islami, members of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held meetings with the Georgian authorities on March 23. The meetings covered a variety of issues among which was the feasibility of the practical reintegration of the Russian-occupied territories with Georgia.

Eorsi found the Government’s Strategy on the Occupied Territories a feasible document. “This is a correct long-term strategy concerning local people which can easily be implemented,” he said at a meeting with Temur Iakobashvili, Vice Prime Minister and State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia. “The main issue of our meeting was the plan for implementing the Strategy. We also provided the PACE members with detailed information about the ethnic minorities in our country and were promised that the Council of Europe will support Georgia in pursuing its defined strategy,” Iakobashvili said, stressing that all the questions of the PACE members were properly answered by the Government. Koba Subeliani, Minister of Refugees and Resettlement spoke of the importance of providing IDPs with relevant living conditions before they could return to their homes.

The main issue of discussions with Davit Bakradze, Chairman of Parliament, was the current situation in Georgia. Bakradze said that all obligations taken by Georgia as a member of the Council of Europe have been fulfilled. The sides stressed the importance of free, fair and democratic elections and claimed they would fully cooperate to ensure the transparency of the process.

“It was a wonderful idea to establish the Council of Ethnic Minorities in the Public Defender’s Office. There are a lot of ethnic and confessional groups in Georgia and one shouldn't be made more important than another as this would create conflict between them. We have changed our opinions on this issue and I hope that the Council will successfully continue holding negotiations in order to create a legislative act which will eradicate all the problems concerning ethnic and confessional minorities in your country,” Eorsi said at the Public Defender’s Office, where he held discussions on the prospects of ethnic minorities integrating in Georgian society.

Representatives of the Council of Ethnic Minorities welcomed the discussions between the Public Defender's Office and the PACE representatives, saying such meetings should be held more often in order to address the most burning issues affecting society. They further spoke of the importance of creating a joint representation in order to fully reflect all the problems of the ethnic and confessional minorities in the state administration. Matyas Eorsi was satisfied that the main priorities of the Public Defender’s Office have remained the same since Giorgi Tugushi’s appointment.

The PACE members visit met a mixed reaction from the Georgian opposition. “Matyas Eorsi is an absolutely partial figure who has been successfully lobbying for Mikheil Saakashvili and is ready to falsify the upcoming elections for a huge amount of money and say they were absolutely democratic, as he did in 2008,” Giorgi Gugava from the Labour Party stated. Irakli Alasania, leader of the Alliance for Georgia, took a different view. “It is our obligation to explain the present situation to Eorsi as a representative of the international community. Some opposition parties may mistrust him due to his past activities but this can’t justify their decision not to talk to him about election campaign violations,” Alasania stated.

“There are always people who accuse me of something, but I am a Member of the Hungarian Parliament promoting democratisation. I don’t support any political party but stay absolutely neutral. I’m ready to stand with the Georgian people in implementing democratic values,” Eorsi said.

The Messenger asked Gia Khukhashvili to summarise the visit from the viewpoint of a political analyst. “I am absolutely against any sharp expressions towards people but the Georgian public has awful experience of Eorsi, especially with regard to elections. It was Eorsi who claimed that the elections were fair [in 2008] and this statement was followed by mass rallies. Matyas Eorsi gives indifferent consideration to issues without looking through the problem so I think he has fairly earned the mistrust of the Georgian public,” Khukhashvili stated.