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Press release: EPP Group warns against setbacks and backsliding of Georgian democracy

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Commenting on recent violent mob attacks against the opposition Members of Parliament in Georgia, EPP Group Vice-Chairman Gunnar Hökmark MEP said: ”What we are seeing are very serious setbacks and backsliding of Georgian democracy. Forbidding President Saakashvili to deliver his annual address to the nation in the premises of the Parliament and ordering him to remain in his palace, as well as open violence against opposition members, have to be strongly condemned. I was shocked to learn that my colleague and former Co-Chair of the Euronest Committee on Political Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy, Chiora Taktakishvili, was injured by the violent activists of the governing Georgian Dream. The police are failing to protect law-makers from politically-motivated mob attacks.”

”Constitutional order must be restored in Georgia urgently. We condemn the use and non-use of the administrative forces for political purposes, selective justice and arrests of political opposition, as these jeopardise Georgian ambitions for closer integration with Europe, and could affect the conclusion of the Association Agreement. The setbacks in Georgia since the Georgian Dream took power last October may soon be reflected in the future Eastern Neighbourhood Policy”, said Gunnar Hökmark MEP, who is also Co-Chairman of the EURONEST Committee on Political Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy in the European Parliament.

”The Georgian Dream coalition has started a nationwide political harassment campaign against President Saakashvili and his Party members and supporters. But there is a need to understand that cohabitation and cooperation between political majority and minority is a democratic standard that cannot be undermined. Bringing to justice all those who have physically assaulted opposition law-makers is a necessity. The recent developments undermine Georgia’s credibility on the international scene and in the EU”, said Gunnar Hökmark MEP prior to his visit to Georgia this week.

The EURONEST Committee on Political Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy will meet on 14-15 February in Tbilisi in order to discuss mainly the regional security issues. The EPP Group will be represented by Gunnar Hökmark MEP, Krzysztof Lisek MEP, European Parliament Rapporteur for Georgia, and Joachim Zeller MEP, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. The programme of the visit foresees meetings with political leaders, with particular emphasis on the meeting with President Mikhail Saakashvili. Members will also meet Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, as well as parliamentary faction leaders.

For further information:
Gunnar HÖKMARK MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845822
Per Heister, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Tel: +32-496-645530
Marek Hannibal, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Tel: +32-475-753048

Note to Editors:
The EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly is a parliamentary dimension of the Eastern Partnership launched in May 2011. It is composed of Members of the European Parliament and Members of the Parliaments of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The representatives of the Parliament of Belarus do not take part in the Assembly for the reason that the elections in Belarus fell short of democratic standards.

The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 270 Members and 3 Croatian Observer Members.