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The President of Georgia: "I Call on All Parties to Refrain from Provocations and Criminal Actions"

The President of Georgia, H.E. Giorgi Margvelashvili has called on all parties to refrain from provocations and criminal actions with regard to “Rustavi 2” and pointed out that all parties should wait for and consider the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights and not take any hasty steps. This statement was made by the President at today’s briefing, held at the Presidential Palace.
“Firstly I would like to highlight the fact that the process has become politicized from the very beginning due to politicians’ interference. The statement of the former Prime Minister, made on November 22, 2015 has actually triggered a danger of a civil confrontation and I had to make very strong statements in order to move the process of civil confrontation from streets to mode of negotiation. Since then, due to an active interference from politicians, the process has been becoming politicized.
I am deliberately not referring to this dispute as one over private ownership; I would like to let the public know that "Rustavi 2" is not just a business. Similar to other media agencies it represents an important component of our public and political life. “Rustavi 2” gives an opportunity of expressing our critical and diverse point of views. Expression of critical and diverse viewpoints is extremely important for a democratic society and for the European future of Georgia.
I have stated this numerously that in fact, for two years, at almost all meeting that I have had with our international partners, "Rustavi 2" has been a subject of discussion and I had to state my position with respect to “Rustavi 2” and comment on this case. The international community, in fact, considers the dispute over "Rustavi 2" not just as a legal dispute, but as a political process. The international community considers it as a process that negatively affects the freedom of media and the pluralistic environment in Georgia. The same was clearly stated by the Georgian society, when its members expressed their support of “Rustavi 2”’s independence.
I would like to remind everyone that raiding “Imedi”, under the command of Saakashvili, in 2007, was highly damaging to our democracy. In fact, almost immediately after this incident, I stated my position, that it was a tragic and criminal act.
Therefore, once again, I would like to call on everyone to refrain from provocations and criminal actions.  Due to the political significance of this case, I would like to call on all parties to wait for and consider the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights and not take any hasty steps. "Rustavi 2", as well as all independent and uncensored media agencies, is an integral part of the country's social and political conditions; a part of the condition which creates a democratic governance in the country. Media is considered as the fourth state and media independence is a component of the country’s democracy.
Therefore, the issues are very clear, if the activities of an independent and critical media are limited, naturally, it will be problematic not just for one particular TV channel, but for the democracy of the entire country. These are the issues that, I will repeat myself, have been constantly raised on our international agenda. Our partners have been sensitive toward this issue at all stages. Therefore, I do not want to judge the extent of their critical position, but I would like to confirm that during these two years media independence has always been one of the major topics raised with our partners.
I do not refer to the legal dispute and the issues that are considered in the context of the court. I would like to state that any media belongs to not only means of communication, but to public, irrespective of the public’s attitude. The most of all media belongs to those people who create this media, those staff that produce media products which make parts of our lives. Therefore, I will not consider specific options; I just want to state my position that media pluralism, independence, and a sense that media is not controlled is politically significant for the stability of our country’s democracy.
We, as a country which develops its statehood toward European and Euro-Atlantic direction, which is a signatory of Association Agreement, which clearly states its political objectives within the European Union, and which has recently received a vote of trust from our European partners, in the form of visa liberalization, should enable all European institutions to state their position toward the issues of such high public interest.
Democratic stability of the state, protection of human rights, media pluralism, freedom of political expression, and stability of institutions, naturally, represent integral parts of my political responsibility. Once again, I have not made a statement specifically with respect to the decision of the court. I believe that division and differentiation of the governance specifically concerns to my non-interference with the judiciary process; however, I would like to remind everybody that, unfortunately, this legal process involved a very heavy political component. Politicians were involved in this process through heavy assessments and open statements on live broadcast.
Therefore, once again, I will not make any statements with respect to the composition and the decision of the court; however, I will inform you about the political part of this process. Creating obstacles to such independent, critical, and highly-rated media is a political problem, while the rest is a part of the legal dispute”, - stated the President.

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