Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia and Helene Sand Andresen, the Norwegian Ambassador to the country, on Tuesday met to discuss the presentation of a human rights award by the Conservative Party of Norway to Georgia’s imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili and the diplomat’s response to the event.
The meeting followed comments by Andresen, who on Monday said she was “astonished” after Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili likened Saakashvili being awarded the Sjur Lindebrekke Award for human rights and democracy promotion to a hypothetical scenario of Anders Behring Breivik, a terrorist who staged 2011 attacks that killed 77 in Norway, being distinguished by a state.
In reaction to the remarks, Andresen also said she found them “highly inappropriate”.
In Tuesday’s meeting, Darsalia explained the “negative attitude” of the Georgian side towards the presentation of the prize on the backdrop of the history of violations of human rights and abuse of power by authorities during Saakashvili’s Presidency, the Georgian foreign office said.
The Deputy Minister noted “Saakashvili and many representatives of his Government” had been convicted or served sentences for the offences.
The Foreign Ministry also said the Norwegian party’s move “does not contribute to depolarisation in the Georgian public and is insulting to citizens and their family members who were victims of criminal acts committed during Saakashvili's rule”.
In her response, Andresen noted the award to Saakashvili did not represent the position of the Norwegian Government and was the initiative of a specific party.
In the discussion, the officials also reaffirmed the “friendly relations” between the two countries and expressed their readiness to continue promoting the development of cooperation between them.