“They (EPP and EDG), in my view, want the UNM government back” - Exclusive interview with PACE co-rapporteur Michael Jensen
16 October, 2014
“They (EPP and EDG), in my view, want the UNM government back” - Exclusive interview with PACE co-rapporteur Michael Jensen
– You visited Georgia before the PACE session as a co-rapporteur with Boris Cilevics. What are your main concerns? What do you think still needs improvement in Georgia?

– It is absolutely a very important question and the major point that I am still concerned about is the political polarization in Georgia. You know, in Europe and in the country I am from, the majority and minority powers cooperate, they discuss things. Yet in Georgia there is still a rift between the UNM and the Georgian Dream. The polarization between those two parties is still present.

– Is it helping the country?

– That’s exactly my point. It doesn’t. I am worried about the polarization because it is not helpful.

– Both you and Mr. Cilevics were not happy with the final draft of the resolution that was adopted. Why?

– I did not vote “NO” to the resolution. I abstained, while Cilevics directly voted no. The reason why I am unhappy with the resolution is the polarization that I have just described. The UNM passed it up to the European conservative parties, so the EPP and the British conservatives jointly (together) were trying, as they said, when we talked to them personally, they wanted to teach my co- rapporteur a lesson, as they put it quite bluntly. And I was very angry when I heard that. I won’t name names because it was a personal conversation, but I’ll have to say that they told me that and I was very, extremely unhappy with what I heard because that’s not a fruitful cooperation.
The resolution, especially the last lines in the resolution; was ending on a very negative note, instead of a positive note as we intended. The arrests of the UNM members were overshadowing all the positive notes and I don’t agree with that. What I agree on with UNM, we also said that in our report: that selective justice is not good. But - and this is a very important But - no matter if you are a former president, whoever you are, no one is above the law. If you have done anything that is against the law, you should answer for it.

– What you have described leads to the conclusion that there is an ongoing lobby war in the Council of Europe and on European stage in general. If that’s the case and they only
care about their lobbying interests and motivations and not about who is right and who is wrong, then what value does this resolution have?

– You know, we are trying to help the country, the Georgian government and also the minority in order to have a more democratic society, a more European level of democracy.

– That’s what you try to achieve, but I doubt that actually was a final result…

– Absolutely. But what I mean by that is that now if I were in the government of Georgia or in the parliament of Georgian Dream I would say that it is a partisan report. Now this is a UNM report. It’s not a report of two co-rapporteurs who have been in Georgia many, many times, have been following the country’s development. Now it’s an EPP report. It’s neither a helpful report for the Georgian Dream, nor for the UNM. In my view it’s not helpful for anyone. It is just a partisan report.

– Would you say that such a kind of biased resolution would undermine the trust and respect Georgian society has for European institutions?

– Well, I am worried about it. I don’t know what the outcome will be yet. I am very worried what Georgian people will say about it. I am worried that people in Georgia will now say – well, is it a neutral report or just some other thing?

– I can tell you another thing that Georgian people will say: “Is this the Europe we are looking up to? Is this the friend we have to take advice from?” What would you tell them?

– I understand it and as I said, I am quite worried about it, but I hope that it won’t be the case - they won’t say so, and that’s also why it was very important that we, as two co-rapporteurs, have clearly said that we could not support the final result. That’s why we abstained.

– How would you evaluate the performance of the current Georgian government representatives at the assembly? Did they stand a chance to make the resolution more objective and more impartial?

– No, I think they did not stand a chance. And it was not surprising for me because the EPP is the largest group in the parliamentary assembly and there were also EDG (European Democrat Group) and the British conservatives. With all the conservative powers joined in the parliamentary assembly, I knew that we were going to lose. Because they were the majority and they could vote us down. They wanted to show us… They even were not interested in what we said. They were only interested in sending a political signal.

– If basically, as you said, it was about teaching the government side a lesson? What do you think was the purpose of the lesson? What was there for the Georgian government to learn?

– That they (the conservatives) still want the other government. To say it quite bluntly, they actually want UNM in power, while we, as rapporteurs, are neutral. We can work with the UNM government and with the Georgian government. We can work with whatever government and we shall work with any government because it’s the Georgian people who decide who they want in their government. But in my view the EPP and EDG, in my view, want UNM government back and they will do whatever they can to help them with that.

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