Wednesday

29th Mar 2017

Letter

Georgians want answers to years of impunity

  • Tbilisi: The Saakashvili summons comes at a delicate time in EU-Georgia-Russia relations (Photo: Thomas Depenbusch)

The prison torture scandal that angered Georgians enough to vote out the government of Mikheil Saakashvili in 2012 was only a part of years of abuse and corruption under the leadership of a man some in Georgia and abroad believe should remain untouchable. The majority of the Georgian people at least want answers to those abuses of the past.

For years, the international community - the Europeans, the Americans, and others - had called for a more transparent government in Georgia, a fairer justice system, a freer media. The new government led by Georgian Dream has delivered on those reforms, as the latest EU progress report this week notes. But should there be a two-speed justice system that leaves former officials above the law?

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.

This is why thousands of Georgians came forth after the 2012 elections and filed complaints alleging official wrongdoing, requiring a newly freed justice system to investigate. There were allegations of diversion of public funds, wrongful imprisonment, even violence. Some of those cases have required investigators to summon former officials.

The Georgian government has also demonstrated flexibility: that Saakashvili can testify via video-conferencing from outside the country. What is important is that investigators are able to give Saakashvili an opportunity to answer those questions, and show Georgians the transparency of the judicial process. So far the former president faces no charges. Investigators simply want answers.

There is one point in Salome Samadashvili's commentary published in EUobserver on 27 March 2014 on which I agree: This judicial process should in no way affect plans for the accelerated June signing of the EU association agreement with Georgia. The agreement is a deeply important step in Georgia's European integration, and demonstrates the progress our government has made in raising our country to EU standards.

Our judicial process, and its reforms, have been overseen by EU rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg as well as international NGOs. Our reforms have brought an independent judiciary and openness in the process, including cameras in the courtroom. But we should not limit these reforms, and efforts to bring rule of law, by ignoring the abuses of the past.

The writer is chairman of the foreign relations committee in the parliament of Georgia

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The Union under threat

The effect of Brexit will be much more profound on Northern Ireland than on Scotland. Some kind of border controls with Ireland seem inevitable.

Birthday wishes to the European Union

With the EU soon to celebrate its 60th birthday, there are still lingering questions about the bloc's future and whether there can be a change in fortune.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

News in Brief

  1. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  2. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  3. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  4. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  5. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  6. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  7. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal
  8. EU majority against GM crops, but not enough to block them

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans