PM Garibashvili responds US Senators regarding Saakashvili’s case

PM Garibashvili believed "no one was above the law.” Photo by PM’s press Office., 11 Aug 2014 - 18:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has responded to a letter penned by four United States (US) Senators that voiced concerns over charges against Georgia’s former president.

An official statement released today stated PM Garibashvili agreed with the US officials that the legal process surrounding the prosecution of former government officials "must be above all reproach and all cases must be dealt with in a fair, transparent, and impartial manner”.

On August 1, four US Senators – John McCain, Marco Rubio, Jeanne Shaheen and James Risch, personally wrote to the Georgian leader and urged Garibashvili to ensure his administration did "everything necessary to encourage pluralism and avoid even the perception of selective justice.”

The letter was published by local media company Tabula, who accused the Government’s Administration of not releasing the letter. When a journalist asked Garibashvili about this issue, he answered it was "personal correspondence” and it was unethical on his part to make it public.

However today, the PM’s press office released an official response from Garibashvili, citing high public interest. In his letter, PM Garibashvili pledged to work with anyone in Georgia who was "willing to be a constructive partner for the good of all people”.

"[I] agree whole heartedly with you about the importance of a vibrant and constructive political opposition. … While more needs to be done to continue such cooperation, many of our recent policies and law have been improved by the input of the opposition.”

Garibashvili believed from a dangerous neighborhood to needing to strengthen our economy, Georgia has faced many challenges.

"My Government came to office seeking to unlock the true potential of Georgia’s economy and execute our European and Euro-Atlantic integration but both of those aspirations, as well as the fundamental safety and security of the Georgian people, require a working democracy,” the letter read.

"We were elected to build this modern democracy, protect human rights, put our people on a permanent path of development and ensure that none of these advances could be reversed by the next government, no matter the party.”

Garibashvili was confident the current Government was doing its best to raise the standard by which future political leaders would be judged and create a fair system in which to judge them.

Meanwhile, the PM referred to the UN Human Rights Committee’s report issued on July 23, 2014, that called on Georgia’s Government to investigate the myriad of potential human rights abuses by the previous government that, to date, have been ignored.

"My Government was elected on this issue and while we are not involved in the decision about what cases to pursue, our autonomous prosecutor was given a mandate to pursue cases of past and current government officials who committed grave crimes,” Garibashvili said.

He also emphasized that "no one was above the law” and "Georgia’s blossoming judicial system would not be perverted for the sake of a few”.

In this regard, he urged the US Senators to carefully monitor the trials of former Georgian high officials and invited them to come to Georgia to see the process firsthand.

"I urge you to examine the trial process, which has so far received high marks from international observers, to confirm that these defendants received a fair trial,” he noted.

He said that if the prosecutor lived up to his mandate, he would ensure a fair trial and present convincing evidence. "If he does not meet this standard, the defendants should be acquitted,” he added.

He also reaffirmed that Georgia saw its future firmly in the West and the US’ "solid and unwavering support was deeply cherished by the whole Georgian nation”.

"We have taken a great risk for our country in pursuing this path – a portion of our country remains under illegal military occupation and Russia recently terminated our free trade agreement in retaliation for our signing the EU Association Agreement,” he said.

At the end of the letter Garibashvili expressed hope that time would show that their efforts to end impunity would make Georgia a stronger nation and ally.