Ambassadors of 25 EU countries have called on the Georgian government ‘to uphold the rule of law and to act in effective prevention of any future attempts at such criminal acts,’ following the violent events of July 5, where right-wing protesters attacked and assaulted journalists at the Tbilisi Pride counter rally, removed the EU flag twice from its position in front of parliament and burnt it.
The statement was addressed to Interior Minister of Georgia Vakhtang Gomelauri and called for immediate and appropriate political and legal actions, noting that the recent events ‘cast a shadow over EU-Georgia relations.’
EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell has tweeted:
Letter addressed to the Government of Georgia by EU Heads of mission on the Pride events of 5 July and their follow-up.— Carl Hartzell (@CarlHartzellEU) July 15, 2021
We call for immediate and appropriate political and legal actions.
➡️ https://t.co/TbC7JJM9jt pic.twitter.com/Z8Xoz4gkbx
The counter-demonstrators conducted organised violence targeting civic activists and journalists. Physical infringements on the safety of both groups were alarming. We recall in this context that journalists must be able to carry out their job safely and securely in any democracy. Violence is unacceptable and can never be excused,” said the statement.
The ambassadors of 25 EU countries expressed their condolences over the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava and noted that they will wait for the results of the investigation.
We regret that the authorities did not call publicly for the protection of those peacefully marking Pride events, take other necessary actions to prevent or deter hate driven speech or, in the end, provide sufficient protection as violent acts against activists and journalists were carried out,” reads the letter.
Ambassador of the Netherlands to Georgia Maaike van Koldam has also tweeted:
Joint letter by the EU Heads of mission on the Pride events of 5 July and their follow-up: https://t.co/vITPGldyPk— Maaike van Koldam (@MaaikevanKoldam) July 15, 2021
The letter also reiterated that Georgia and EU countries ‘share a commitment to the universality and indivisibility of human rights for all.’
We share a fundamental belief in upholding every citizen’s constitutional right to the freedom of expression and assembly and the freedom of the media. These shared values are enshrined in the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and the European Convention on Human Rights. They unite us and make us proud, but also oblige us to take action in their defence and to protect the most vulnerable persons in our societies,” said in the statement.
Ambassador of France to Georgia Diego Colas tweeted:
A joint letter of EU heads of missions on the Pride events of July 5. https://t.co/o8xfyx7wwd— Diégo Colas (@ColasDiego) July 15, 2021
Ambassadors also noted with alarm the fact of desecration of the EU flag outside of the Georgian parliament.
This flag represents the fundamental values on which the European Union and EU-Georgia relations are built. The attacks on the flag on two occasions are, therefore, also direct attacks on Georgia’s democratic and pro-European aspirations,” reads the letter.
A total of 53 journalists were attacked and injured at the Tbilisi Pride counter rally.
In total 23 people have been detained for the violent events of July 5.