25 September 2021,   16:17
Prime Minister addresses PACE President with a request to delegate as many observers as possible for the upcoming local self-government elections

Prime Minister held a meeting with PACE President. Irakli Garibashvili thanked Rik Daems for his constructive engagement in Georgia’s democratic reforms, also emphasizing that Georgia remains the EU’s strong ally and a major stronghold of democracy in a geopolitically challenging region. Special emphasis was placed on Georgia’s positive role in the Caucasus and the mediation initiated by the Prime Minister which resulted in the release of 15 Armenian citizens and important maps of mined territories handed over to Azerbaijan.

The parties also discussed the 2021 local self-government elections. The Head of Government thanked the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for delegating observers for the 2020 parliamentary elections despite the ongoing pandemic, also underlining that the authorities are motivated to ensure peaceful and transparent elections this year as well. The Prime Minister addressed the PACE President with a request to delegate as many PACE observers as possible to ensure against any speculations from anyone concerning the elections.

Irakli Garibashvili and Rik Daems spoke about the agreement mediated by Charles Michel. According to the Prime Minister, the ruling team has fulfilled the agreement’s provisions, and this process continues. Most of the opposition have yet to sign Charles Michel’s agreement, a factor destabilizing the political situation and impeding peaceful progress, the Head of the Government added.

The meeting also touched on the events of July 5-6. According to the Prime Minister, the police have performed their duties at a high level, and all cases of violence against journalists will be investigated in the nearest future to punish all perpetrators duly.

As Irakli Garibashvili said, the Government is doing everything to provide journalists with freedom to do their jobs. He pointed out that Georgia, since 2012, has been a leader in every ranking, ahead of many EU member states, and that freedom of the press is guaranteed here.

The Head of Government and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe discussed the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories. According to Irakli Garibashvili, Russia continues its illegal actions in Eastern Europe and uses human rights for manipulation and political purposes. The release of illegally detained Zaza Gakheladze is a major achievement, Garibashvili added, one ensured through joint efforts of Georgia and international partners. He underlined the importance of stepping up efforts toward the release of illegally detained Irakli Bebua. The Head of Government thanked the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the CoE’s efforts toward and support for peaceful conflict-resolution and confidence-building, also emphasizing that PACE resolutions adequately reflect the dire security and humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied regions. According to him, it is important for the international community to resume speaking loudly about Russia’s illegal actions, and human rights violations, in Georgia’s occupied regions, and to take relevant steps to ensure that the Russian Federation fulfills its assumed political and legal obligations, including through the implementation of the ceasefire agreement.

The Prime Minister emphasized that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgian Government, in order to aid its citizens living in occupied Abkhazia, spared no effort to provide them with free medical treatment and admission to schools of higher education bypassing entrance exams. The Head of Government expressed regret over the de-facto authorities of occupied Tskhinvali refusing the humanitarian aid offered by the Central Government.

The meeting at the Government Administration was attended by Vice Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani.