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Georgian PM meets with EPP members

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 26
Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili hosted the European People’s Party (EPP) delegation on September 24. Ivanishvili thanked the EPP’s representatives for their support of Georgia's sovereignty and discussed important issues with them.

Ivanishvili once again expressed his concern over the situation ongoing in the occupied region of South Ossetia.

“Thank you for your support expressed in the Sep.12 resolution of the European Parliament,” Ivanishvili stated.

Through the resolution, European Parliament condemned Russian attempts to pressure on the state of the Eastern Partnership and appealed to Russia to respect the sovereignty of independent countries.

Members of the EPP stressed that they are friends of Georgia. However, they underscored that the fact that the former Interior Minister is in prison creates doubts and might disturb Georgia’s progress in EU integration.

EPP representatives stressed that they support Georgia’s advancement and independence. However, according to them, the former Interior Minister’s detention is problematic.

“It is very difficult for me to see the logic in Merabishvili’s detention,” a member of the European Parliament, Guunar Hokmark, stated. He emphasized that the members of the EPP met with Merabishvili in prison.

“Merabishvili’s detention should be in accordance with European standards and he should be treated according to European standards,” Hokmark said, explaining that lengthening the court process for Merabishvili does not meet this standard.

“The interrogation of 4,500 witnesses concerning Merabishvili’s case is also strange,” Hokmark said.

The EPP representative highlighted that the association agreement with EU is not just an agreement; it includes significant obligations Georgia should fulfill. Hokmark emphasized that a high standard of justice is one of the obligations.

“When we talk about justice, it is not serious to have the individual in pre-trial detention for a long period of time and disturb the timely discussion of his case to the court,” Hokmark stated.

Prosecutors requested additional time to submit new evidence in the case. In fact, the Prosecutor’s Office has recorded testimony from more than 3, 000 witnesses by some accounts. Prosecutor Natia Songhulashvili estimated that at least two more hearings are needed to present all the evidence.

Merabishvili is being charged in several different cases, including the violent dispersal of protesters on May 26, 2011 and the embezzlement of state funds.

Members of the coalition Georgian Dream claim that Merabishvili’s detention is a pure legal issue. According to them, the UNM is trying to give the process political shading. Members of the Georgian Dream, including the chair of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party, Armaz Akhvlediani, have stated that the EPP is not fair in their statements due to its long-term collaboration with the United National Movement (UNM). Members of the UNM call the former minister a victim of political pursuit and state that the EPP members’ attitude reveals the foreign community’s views concerning former officials’ detentions in Georgia