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MEP: Georgia in Danger of Sliding Back

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (left) and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (left) and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili Source: Photo: AFP/Scanpix

An Estonian MEP says Georgia has been sliding away from democracy since its new prime minister came to power.

Pressure on the opposition, judiciary and independent media is increasing, and violence by gangs, purportedly enjoying support from the government, indicates a disturbing trend, Tunne Kelam told uudised.err.ee.

MEPs sent a letter to Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili expressing concern over what they see as a rapid decline in democracy and rule of law in the Caucasus republic, which broke dramatically from the pattern of many former Soviet countries in the "Rose Revolution" 10 years ago, but has occasionally overreached since then.

Kelam, representing Estonia's right of center IRL and the European People's Party group in the EP,  was one of the initiators of the letter.

He said that many deputies are realizing "the speed at which the Georgian Dream coalition is trying to achieve total control" and make the changes irreversible.

"Prime Minister Ivanishvili's unprecedented ultimatum to President Saakashvili - that the latter should drop opposition plans to amend the constitution - the brutal pressure on members of the opposition, judiciary and independent media, incitation to open hostility are all signs of regression from democracy," Kelam said.

Ivanishvili has expressed commitment to integration of Euro-Atlantic structures, but Kelam called it "lip service."

A political ally, former chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Jacek Saryusz-Wolsk, called developments in Georgia a slow coup d'etat. He said that Ivanishvili had used intimidation to reach a point where he needed just five votes to change the constitution. 

The goal is to make the upcoming direct presidential elections parliamentary ensuring easy victory for the government candidate.

Kelam says he sees a wider intrigue.

"The Russian president's main goal is to make the Eurasian Union a reality by next year. At the recent Russian defense college session, he demanded that former Soviet republics be re-integrated decisively and rapidly," Kelam said.

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