Friday

23rd Jun 2017

Georgia rejects EU criticism of Tbilisi violence

Georgia's ambassador to the EU has said the European Commission made misleading statements about street clashes in Tbilisi that left almost 40 people in hospital and two dead.

Speaking to EUobserver on Thursday (26 May) in Brussels, Salome Samadashvili said EU institutions and member states have not delivered any form of official complaint to Georgia about the events despite commission claims.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Georgia broke away from the Soviet Union 20 years ago, but serious tensions remain (Photo: wikipedia)

"No one has communicaed these kinds of comments to us about what happened - not any representative of the commission nor any EU member state either here or in Tbilisi. So we were very surprised to hear this line," she explained. "Up till now I have not heard anything, anything. The commission spokesperson's statement is not in line with the truth."

Earlier the same day commission spokeswoman Natasha Butler told press that Brussels is "concerned" about the "regrettable" events and warned Georgia "not to use violence as a means for political ends."

"We urge the need to maintain law and order but as we have already told the Georgian government this needs to be done in an appropriate way and the EU therefore urges the Georgian government to investigate all allegations of excessive use of violence."

Riot police on Thursday attacked anti-government protesters on Rustali Avenue in Tbilisi with water cannon, tear gas and rubber batons fifteen minutes after their permit to hold the demonstration expired at midnight. The protesters fought back with sticks and flag poles. Two people died after being hit by a car.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili described the events as a Russian plot to weaken his rule on the day of the 20th anniversary of Georgia's declaration of independence.

Human Rights Watch said the police used "excessive violence" against people "who posed no threat."

Noting that EU-Georgia relations are "increasingly close," Samadashvili said that the street clashes in no way affected her plans to host an independence day event with EU officials and diplomats in a Belgian foreign ministry building in Brussels on Thursday evening.

"There might be no Russian presence, but the Russians were not planning to come to our reception [anyway]," she remarked.

A senior EU diplomat told EUobserver that the Tbilisi clashes are "much less serious" than Saakashvili's violent crackdown on demonstrators in 2007, an event which harmed his reputation in EU capitals.

He added that while EU-Georgia relations are progressing well at the techncial level of agreements on visas and trade, the political mood is different: "Saakashvili dosn't have the same aura he had in the beginning after the Rose Revolution and in additon to that, after a lot of crises and problems, there is a degree of Georgia fatigue."

Meanwhile, France's deal to help Russia build ski resorts for the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi and to sell it four Mistral-class warships - clinched at the G8 summit in Deauville on Thursday - has the potential to generate bad feeling from the Georgian side.

Georgia aims to boycott the Sochi games due to the 2008 Georgia-Russia war. A Russian general, Vladimir Vysotsky, boasted in 2009 that if he had had a Mistral he would have won the 2008 war in 40 minutes.

"I'm sure Georgian-French relations will remain very good. What concerns us are the statements by some Russian officials, including military personnel, about the possible usage of their newly-acquired military capabilities," Samadashvili said.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

EU steps up global counter-terrorism drive

EU foreign ministers vowed to increase the number of projects and financial support in different parts of the world ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, where leaders will focus on security and defence.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit