TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s ruling party, GD, criticizes EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell for being too timid in his criticism of the leader of the opposition party UNM Nika Melia after a verbal confrontation outside the EU office in Tbilisi on Thursday.
Melia approached the GD chairman Irakli Kobakhidze and the two engaged in a heated discussion about a violent attack at a UNM event in Dmanisi several days ago, when a Georgian Dream supporter wounded two UNM supporters.
“I regret that an aggressive exchange took place in front of the EU Delegation premises between two party leaders. I welcome however that one of them later apologised and called for calm.
“I was also concerned about the security situation that arose outside the EU Delegation shortly after this confrontation, which I am raising with the relevant state interlocutors,“ EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell said in his statement after the incident.
But this statement was way too careful as GD’s tops saw it and it quickly drew criticism from GD leaders.
“The statement was too soft and Nikanor Melia, who already has an intellect problem, can understand it as a ‘green light’ for further provocations,” said Kobakhidze.
Also Shalva Papuashvili, a member of parliament for GD, argued that this had been a provocation by the UNM which the EU envoy should have condemned in much stronger words.
“I read the statement by Carl Hartzell. It is unfortunate that he did not condemn this provocation. I hope that Nika Melia and the United National Movement will not understand this statement as an incentive for their further provocations,” said Shalva Papuashvili.
On Thursday, Carl Hartzell held separate meetings with leading political parties to discuss the ongoing electoral process.
The incident happened as Nika Melia, the leader of the United National Movement, approached Irakli Kobakhidze, the GD chairman, who was giving an interview to journalists in front of EU office, and started a sharp verbal altercation over the incident in Dmanisi, southern Georgia, where a few days prior, a Georgian Dream supporter wounded two UNM supporters.
The situation almost escalated into a physical fight but the situation was defused when Kobakhidze was whisked away by his security detail.
Later, GD supporters, mostly young men, showed up at the EU office, where Nika Melia was meeting with Carl Hartzell. This was perceived as a threat of physical retribution.
“I was also concerned about the security situation that arose outside the EU Delegation shortly after this confrontation, which I am raising with the relevant state interlocutors,“ states Carl Hartzell in his comment.
Irakli Kobakhidze apologized to the public for this confrontation and called on the gathered supporters to disperse. After that, the supporters of GD dispersed and the situation calmed down.