Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili on Monday criticized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for not being objective.

He said during a meeting with students that it is important for democracy to have a strong, objective and unbiased civil society that criticizes the government and points out mistakes, but that Georgia has a problem when it comes to how NGOs are operating.

Gharibashvili illustrates his point with an example from a few weeks ago, when a high ranking EU official visited Georgia and met with NGOs, after which he told the PM that he was astonished, because the NGOs said they support the biggest opposition force because it is getting weaker every day.

“The main argument was that it is weak and they want to protect it. This is an absolutely distorted approach,” he said, “There mustn’t be bias. Very often they do not understand where the margin of objectivity is. The biggest challenge for the non-governmental sector is to define this margin.”

The heads of Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Transparency International Georgia (TIG), ISFED and others responded by asking for meeting with the prime minister. According to them, the PM misinterpreted the EU official.

Kakha Kozhoridze of GYLA told Interpressnews that there might not be ideal situation in the non-governmental sector, but one example is not enough to draw the conclusion that they are biased.

The head of ISFED said the PM must have been talking about Štefan Füle, the European commissioner for enlargement, and added that the organizations are going to notify Fule about what the PM said, as they think Gharibashvili has done wrong by misinterpreting him.

Lasha Tughushi, editor in-chief of daily newspaper Rezonansi, thinks it is not right to criticize non-governmental sector in a speech, but that it would be better to meet with them and discuss what the problem is.

Nino Kobakhidze, head of the government administration, told journalists on Tuesday that the PM will consult and then decide whether to meet with NGOs, as they have several times expressed a wish to meet him.