Rasmussen was “extremely concerned” But...
15 November, 2012
Rasmussen  was “extremely concerned” But...

‘He Noted that NATO Will Trust and Understand All of the New Government’s actions‘

 

Since NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen was “extremely concerned” over recent arrests of “political opponents” of new government in Georgia, PM Bidzina Ivanishvili offers NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to send a team to Georgia that would monitor ongoing investigation into criminal charges brought against former defense minister and two former senior army commanders.

 

 

 

Former defense and interior minister Bacho Akhalaia, as well as chief

of army staff Brig. Gen. Giorgi Kalandadze and former commander of 4th army brigade Zurab Shamatava were arrested and charged with abuse of soldiers. Kalandadze and Shamatava were released on bail and Akhalaia, who also faces other charges too involving illegal confinement, was remanded in pre-trial custody pending investigation. Brig. Gen. Kalandadze was suspended from office through court’s ruling.

President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) condemned the arrests as launch of “political retributions” by the new authorities against the representatives of previous administration. But the new authorities say that the arrests were part of a campaign of “restoring justice” by investigating alleged wrongdoings by former senior officials.

Speaking at a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on November 12, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said, after he was asked about Georgia, that he appreciated the way October 1 parliamentary elections were conducted and added that Georgia passed “a litmus test when it comes to democratic development.”

He said that he also appreciated the way how transfer of power took place following the elections. “So far so good,” he said.

But Rasmussen also added: “No reason to hide that I’m extremely concerned about the development we have seen since then [the elections and transfer of government], not least related to recent arrests of political opponents in Georgia.”

“Well, I am not going to interfere with judicial system in Georgia. It’s for the legal system, the judicial system in Georgia to sort out these cases. But of course it’s important that such trials are not undermined by political interference,” he said and added that NATO would follow developments “very closely.”

Georgia’s PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is now visiting Brussels, plans to meet NATO Secretary General on November 14, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, who met PM Ivanishvili on November 12, called on Georgia’s new government, without mentioning any specific case, to avoid “situations of selective justice.”

President Saakashvili, who is in Prague where he attended the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and met with the NATO Secretary General, said on November 12 that the recent arrests, especially the one of the army chief of staff, harmed Georgia’s NATO integration process and “thwarted” NATO Military Committee’s visit to Georgia.

“It is of course very unfortunate that the Secretary General was very critical. I actually do not remember NATO having a critical tone about Georgia in recent years and I can barely recall NATO having such a critical tone towards any country,” Saakashvili said in televised remarks.

He said that he did not think the new government carried out these arrests “intentionally” to harm Georgia’s NATO integration, but was rather a result of the new authorities’ “inexperience”.

“If only they had waited for at least few weeks… I really can’t understand why these hasty decisions were needed,” Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili said that the way how elections were conducted with consequent power transfer, created an opportunity for Georgia for making “a big leap forward” in terms of NATO integration. He said that despite recent developments NATO should anyway give Georgia “at least some positive signals” in terms of integration process when NATO foreign ministers meet in December.

“My message to the Secretary General was that [recent developments] should not in any way stop Georgia’s progress towards NATO. Governments and presidents will come and go in Georgia, but we should definitely join NATO,” Saakashvili said.

“Despite these developments, NATO-Georgia Commission meeting at the level of foreign ministers should any way be held and there should be some kind of progress; the NATO Military Committee should definitely visit [Georgia] at some point. Yes there will be questions asked, but the Georgian people’s [interests] should not be harmed because of someone’s inexperience or because of anyone’s some other intentions,” he said.

Saakashvili also said that by meeting with former chief of  staff Kalandadze in the presidential palace after his release on bail and by instructing him to continue performing his duties, he wanted to send a message to the new government about the need “to put this incident aside.”

“But unfortunately they did not use this chance,” Saakashvili said.

After this meeting between Saakashvili and Kalandadze on November 10, chief prosecutor’s office filed a motion to the court requesting suspending Kalandadze from the office on which the Tbilisi City Court ruled positively next day.

“I think that we should all understand this [NATO integration] should not be an issue for wrangling between the President and the government; this is vitally important for Georgia to be part of this Alliance. It should not be a matter of political confrontation,” Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili also said that he welcomed that PM Ivanishvili was now visiting Brussels and added that such visits would help the new government in gaining more experience.

“I think these [visits] will give him [PM Ivanishvili] more information on many issues and will be useful for him and it will help each member of this government to see Georgia’s interest more clearly,” Saakashvili said.

 

 

 

Panjikidze, who accompanies PM Ivanishvili on his visit to Brussels, made the remarks after NATO Secretary General said on November 12 in Prague that he was “extremely concerned about the development we have seen since [the elections], not least related to recent arrests of political opponents in Georgia.”

“We hed a meeting [with NATO Secretary General] on November 14 and we responded to all the question. All the developments surrounding this issue are fully transparent. That’s the message Mr. Ivanishvili voiced during the meetings [with EU officials] here today and he also said that we are ready to [receive] a NATO team - if NATO has such practice, which will monitor closely and study how the investigation is ongoing,” Georgia’s foreign minister said.

PM Ivanishvili said in an interview with Channel 9 TV from Brussels late on November 12, that “real chance of joining NATO emerged after we came into power.”

Ivanishvili said that NATO Secretary General’s remarks were “normal and very good”.

He said that there would be no selective justice in Georgia. “I assured Mr. Rasmussen about it when we meet” on November 14, Ivanishvili said.”And I offered him to set up some kind of a working group, which would follow these developments, which the previous authorities were trying to portray as a political retribution and injustice.”

Ivanishvili also said that the fact in itself that “we had to arrest chief of army staff was alarming.” “That’s a shame for the country,” he added.

 

 

 

NATO doesn’t consider it necessary to set up a working group to study the situation in Georgian army and declares trust to the new government of Georgia, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said in Brussels during the joint press conference after meeting Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

“We both expressed concern over the developments in Georgia. I mean the detentions. I offered the Secretary General to take part in this process to make everything transparent and understandable. Mr. Rasmussen declared trust in us; he noted that he will trust all our actions. This was his position on the issue”, Bidzina Ivanishvili said.

Georgia’s Prime Minister said that the meeting was interesting and many other issues were discussed. Ivanishvili says the meeting highlighted that Georgia passed a very important test by 1 October elections.

“It was a very interesting message to the international commonwealth and NATO member states. We were promised by Mr. Rasmussen that in the foreign affairs Ministerial planned for December, there would be a good emphasis on this and it will be noted that Georgia passed a big test”, the Prime Minister said.

Ivanishvili expressed concern over the postponed visit of NATO military committee, though the Secretary General promised him that the visit will take place in Georgia. Ivanishvili invited the members of the North Atlantic council to Georgia, which will “strengthen our integration with NATO”, he said.

Georgia’s Prime Minister underscored at the joint press conference that NATO is a political structure too and promised that the new governmetn will do everything to strengthen democracy of institutes of the new government.

“We’ll do everything to truly develop democratic institutions. The problems created several days ago, I think it was linked with the former government, instead of building truly democratic institutes, was confined to facade expressions and there was not enough transparency for the public including the army units. Georgia’s new team will do everything to make all our actions understandable to the international commonwealth and NATO. We’ll do everything to achieve the goals, to manage to become a NATO member state in near future”, Ivanishvili said, who also thanked Rasmussen and NATO structures for the help they give to Georgia.

 

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