“We must be candid, we must be critical enough” - Boris Cilevics on the Council of Europe Resolution
09 October, 2014
“We must be candid, we must be critical enough” - Boris Cilevics on the Council of Europe Resolution
On October 1st the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on “the functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia.” In a typical fashion indicative of Georgia’s growing political divisions, the Georgian Delegation in Strasbourg furiously debated the resolution with Georgian Dream members opposed to it and UNM members supporting the resolution.

Before the resolution was adopted, members of the Georgian delegation, mostly from UNM, pushed for several amendments to be added to the draft. Most of the amendments were critical of current political trends in Georgia. The amendments were endorsed by the PACE monitoring committee and subsequently by the entire Assembly the next day in the October 1st session.
While the Assembly ultimately endorsed the amendments, some, such as Michael Aastrup Jensen of Denmark and Boriss Cilevičs of Latvia, the two PACE co-rapporteurs on Georgia, strongly opposed many of the adopted amendments, arguing that they were “partisan” in nature and undermined their originally “balanced” report. Georgian Dream members of the delegation made similar claims, which sparked the heated debate within the Georgian delegation in Strasbourg.
Georgian Journal had the privilege of speaking with Boris Cilevics about the aftermath of the summit, its political implications for the assembly and what the CoE resolution ultimately means for Georgia and the current status of Georgia’s democracy.

– We would like you to elaborate on what were you main concerns regarding the Council of Europe resolution. Why you were ”not happy” with it and what could have been done to make things better?

– Our main mandate as rapporteurs of parliamentary assembly is to monitor implementation of the obligations undertaken by Georgia upon accession to the Council of Europe. Some of these commitments are very specific and clearly formulated. For example, the ratification of the European charter of regional and minority languages.This is one of the outstanding obligations which has not been fulfilled so far. There is yet another outstanding obligation which has not been fulfilled despite the substantialprogress.

– Which are the obligations?

– The obligation is repatriation of deported Meskhetian Population.Indeed there is a serious progress - the legislative framework is in place, although it was criticized by many NGOs and experts and we agree that it’s far from being perfect, but the process took a start and we clearly formulated our concerns that the bureaucratic administrative processis too long, there are some excessive demands in place and the main concern is
that, although more than one thousand people obtained this repatriate status, too few people have been granted Georgian citizenship.

– What about more outspoken claims of political vendetta and politically motivated imprisonment. What can you say about that?

– This exactly why we could not vote for the resolution. Because in our view, several amendments which have been made it in the final draft of resolution, made this report unbalanced.We have to avoid politically motivated statements, avoid getting engaged in domestic political competition. The draft resolution we have suggested also included several points of serious criticism, in particular, with regard to the prosecution of former governmental officials. But, I would like to say it very strongly, it’s not up to us - to the assembly to decide who is right and who is wrong and we are not going to replace the Georgian court. It’s only up to you and your judiciary, to decide who’s the responsible, who is innocent and who is guilty. Our task is to closely monitor whether the prosecution and trial are held in full accordance with the principles of rule of law, human rights and fair trial. And if we notice some suspicious things, which might run contrary to the standards of the Council of Europe, it’s our obligation to indicate the problems. This is the case, for example, of overly long pre-trial detention.This is what we said in very strong words, because we are absolutely convinced that human rights must be ensured for everybody. The way how pre-trial detention is applied in the case we mentioned does not comply with the standardsof CoE. But it’s not our task to say who is guilty and who is not, is it a political vendetta or not, It’s simply not our job.

– However, if Georgian government would not comply and would not consider your recommendations and your advices, that would have some kind of consequences for Georgia on European stage. You said that we are free to decide who is right and who is wrong. But on the decision we make depends our European future. Is that not right?

– I agree.Of course, it’s up to your courts to decide about alleged crimes. But let me clarify something. Georgia as a member of Council of Europe has certain obligations. The monitoring procedure starts immediately after accession. A number of member states are under the monitoring procedure and it is closed as soon as the major obligations have been fulfilled. Monitoring procedure is not a punishment. It’s a friendly advice and assistance. We sincerely believe that Georgia, like other members states, shares the basic values of the Council of Europe. Of course it’s not always so easy to implement these principles in practice. Problems exist in all CoE member states. So far we see the willingness of Georgia. I am speaking about the representatives of the state regardless of political affiliations. Your future is in your hands and it is in your own interest to ensure the human rights and democracy prevail in Georgia, and we want to help you. We must be candid, we must be critical enough. The guy, who says that everything is all right, is not your friend. A genuine friend always says the truth, even if it’s not very pleasant.

– Can you emphasize why the resolution will not help Georgia much?

– The Parliamentary Assembly is a political body. You just cannot decide by the vote of politicians whether there is human rights violation or not. It’s up to the Court and the experts to decide about these things. In the assembly we have a sort of a political competition. When monitoring reports are discussed, often the representatives of the ruling parties try to prove that everything is all right and the opposition always criticizes the government. In this case, the opposition managed to persuade the majority of the assembly that they are right.

– Do you agree with the opposition?

– In my view, several points which were supported in the assembly are not helpful. They make the resolution unbalanced. In particular, seizure of the former President’s assets is indeed a matter of concern, but the claim that the seizure of assets is widespread is dubious, at least… Our goal is to encourage cooperationbetween all parties in Georgia. However, some partisan amendments that were voted in do the opposite they rather bring your internal political rift into the assembly and it’s not helpful.

– How would you evaluate the performance of Georgian government’s delegates at the assembly?

– This is not certainly my job to evaluate their performance in the assembly. It won’t be ethical of me to evaluate mycolleague’s work. It’s again up to you to determine. We have a very consistent position; we talk to all members of the Georgian delegation. According to our rules, when questions related to the Georgia are discussed at the monitory meeting, both opposition and the representatives of the coalition must be present.

– Here is an inquisitive question. Is there a lobby war between Georgian government and opposition party to influence European opinion? And if it’s true,who do you think is winning the war?

– Of course, it’s politics. Just like in several other countries. But I believe it’s rather counterproductive. This is a wrong approach. The procedure of appointing rapporteurs takes political confrontations into account. This is why, according to the rules, always two monitoring rapporteurs from different political groups are appointed.Our task is to avoid political sympathies and political rivalries. Of course, all this lobbying takes place, but then again, it’s not helpful at all. We should concentrate on principles and not on political sympathies.

– Does this lobby war influence the decisions and namely, resolutions of the Council of Europe?

– Of course, it does to some extent. At the end of the day, things are decided by the vote that is determined by several factors. And political competition, of course, plays a role in all this.

– Some members of United National Movement criticized you, putting your impartiality under doubts, saying that you were trying to cover up the government. How would you react and reply to them?

– I’m not going to react anyhow. If someone has questions and doubts about the impartiality and objectivity of the rapporteurs, these issues should be raised publicly and all arguments must be put on the table. All monitoring rapporteurs make a declaration about absence of conflict of interests upon appointment. When I made this declaration I was honest, and I am absolutely sure that my co-rapporteur Michael Aastrup Jensen was too. If someone questions my professional honesty, I expect some kind of proof. If not, if it’s just like Americans say, “backstabbing”, I don’t think this is a sort of behavior which meets the criteria of moral politics. And an attempt not to refute the argument but to discredit the rapporteurs instead runs contrary to the well-known principles: attack the argument, not the person!

Other Stories
Trump’s letter to Margvelashvili: “Georgian independence and democracy remain an aspiration to the world”
US President Donald Trump congratulates Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on the 25th anniversary of the Georgia-US diplomatic relations.
Nauru loses US financial support for recognizing Georgia’s breakaway regions’ independence
Nauru is no longer eligible for any US government financial support because it recognises two Georgian break-away regions as independent countries,
 Moscow Ex-Mayor’s Visit to Georgia Causes Controversy
Moscow’s former mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s visit in Georgia has caused an outcry among the Georgian population and politicians.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili meets Donald Trump at the White House
Yesterday, on May 8th, Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with US President Donald Trump.
Donald Trump signs legislative act recognizing Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as Georgia’s regions occupied by Russia
US President Donald Trump has signed a legislative act, which recognizes Georgia’s breakaway territories - Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region - as regions occupied by Russia;
Sannikov on Belarus, Russia and Georgia
On March 25, there were many angry faces in Minsk. Why? Because a certain “last dictator of Europe,”
O’Hanlon Dishes out Bitter Pills for Georgia: The US Cannot Protect the Whole World
When Wall Street Journal writes something about Georgia, Georgian people (those who know what WSJ is) read it.
Romanian Ambassador on Navy, NATO and Russian Relations
Georgia is offering NATO the chance to deploy its navy in Poti port. If realized, this will dramatically change the power balance in the Black Sea basin
Innovative Reforms to Increase Education Quality in Georgia
From Aleksandre Jejelava’s Article published in The Economist’s World 2017 Georgian edition
Georgia-EU visa-free travel takes effect
Visa-free travel for Georgian citizens with the EU has already taken effect.
"What else should be done by Georgia to get NATO membership?"
Last week, the Foreign Minister of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó, visited Georgia to bolster the bilateral relations between the two countries
Tbilisi-Based Dutch Professor on Dutch Elections, Erdogan, Putin and Saakashvili
On March 15, parliamentary elections were held in The Netherlands. Despite most polls predicting a victory for “Dutch Trump” Geert Wilders,
First photo of Justice Minister's newborn child
The Justice Minister of Georgia gave birth to a baby girl on March 18 and her first photo has already been published on the official page of Gagua Clinic.
Georgia’s Justice Minister off for a maternity leave
Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani is on a maternity leave and for the next two months, her duties will be carried out by her First Deputy, Alexander Baramidze.
James Appathurai comments on the so-called elections in Abkhazia, Georgia
The Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai commented on the so-called elections taken place in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia
David Kramer: Georgia Has a Strong Ally in the Pentagon
Last week, Tbilisi hosted some of the most high-ranking opinion-makers and experts in the Western world.
Austrian Ambassador on that Refugee Camp Idea
It didn’t really become a point of discussion in European media.
OSCE Concerned over Closure of Crossing Points with Breakaway Abkhazia
The Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairmanship issued a statement over the closure of two crossing points along the administrative
Georgia’s citizens to enjoy visa-free travel with the EU from March 28 - EU Official Journal
The decision on providing Georgia with visa-free travel in the EU has been published in the European Union’s Official Journal.
"Nobody is above the law in Israel" - Israeli Amb. Speaks out about Visa-free regime controversy
The visa-free regime between Israel and Georgia was, and is, rightfully considered a huge step toward closer ties between two nations
Lincoln Mitchell on Lavrov, Macmaster and Georgia’s Future
Perhaps the most memorable thing that happened at the Munich International Defense Conference, that is, aside from the thinly veiled ultimatum
James Appathurai congratulates Georgia on signing visa-free-travel document
NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General James Appathurai has officially congratulated Georgia on the document, granting Georgian citizens the right of visa-free travel
 Let us walk together on the European path - MEP Mariya Gabriel
Today's signing ceremony is a historic day for all of us – both for the European and Georgian citizens, - MEP Mariya Gabriel told journalists.
  Statement by the NATO Spokesperson on developments along administrative boundary lines in Georgia
"I am concerned by the announced closure of two crossing points along the administrative boundary line of the Abkhazia region of Georgia
European Council adopts regulation on visa liberalisation for Georgians
On 27 February 2017, the Council adopted a regulation on visa liberalisation for Georgians travelling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period,
Other Stories
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
The Georgian President and his wife are on a state visit to Israel. Giorgi Magvelashvili and the First Lady, together
Koba Subeliani, a member of the National Movement party and the parliamentary minority
According to Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, the Georgian side will take part in the UN peacekeeping mission.
Asked about whether Georgia and Russia are moving towards a repeat of the war in 2008
The U.S. Department of State has released a video in which the new U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly addresses Georgians
GEL Exchange
October 2017
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31