TBILISI, DFWatch – A comment by the EU’s Ambassador to Georgia was interpreted as casting doubt on claims by the opposition Georgian Dream bloc about the government secretly building a paramilitary force.
But now Georgian Dream blames a Georgian news agency of incorrectly interpreting the ambassador’s statement.
Irakli Alasania (pictured) said the government is secretly building up a paramilitary network in Western Georgia, in the region called Samegrelo, bordering Abkhazia. The EU has an observer mission in the area, deployed after the war against Russia in 2008, called European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM). Since the observers follow not only the conflict with Russia, but also monitors the domestic situation, there is an interest in knowing whether the EUMM has noticed this paramilitary force.
Speaking on Maestro TV, in a program called Direct Talk (პირდაპირი საუბარი), EU Ambassador Philip Dimitrov might seem to be casting doubt on the existence of paramilitaries.
Program host Eka Beridze asked Dimitrov: “Irakli Alasania said at a meeting with diplomats that the government is setting up illegal paramilitary groups in the regions and that it might be preparations for civil war in case of defeat in the elections. He sent appropriate information to Georgian Security Council, but the government doesn’t considered this information something to pay attention to. In your opinion, is such a signal a subject to pay attention to, in fact?”
Dimitrov answered: “The EU has a respectable presence in Georgia, this is not only the Delegation which I lead, and these are also 200 people who are monitoring on a daily basis everything that is happening at the ABL, especially on this side of the ABL. If anybody tried to prove to us that there are processes there that we cannot see, this would mean that we, the EU are not very reliable and I cannot accept this. Thus, it is important to remember that the people are doing their work there and it would be very unfortunate if there would be no relevant communication between them and the authorities, the communication which I hope does exist more or less. I guess, Georgians understand that this Mission is here because it is important not that much for the Government, but because they are doing important work for the Georgian people. It is very easy to take them away, it much harder to keep her here. We keep them, and I hope they will be appreciated.”
On Wednesday, the Georgian news agency Interpressnews reported that Dimitrov does not consider Irakli Alasania’s statement about paramilitaries reliable.
Alasania said a few weeks ago that the government is building up a network of paramilitary groups in Samegrelo, a region in the west of the coutry.
He sent a dossier about this to the country’s Security Council, which later published it on the Internet. Giga Bokeria, secretary of the Security Council said the dossier could not be taken seriously. The government says these units are voluntary reservists and absolutely legal.
Now the Free Democrats accuse Interpressnews of incorrectly interpreting what Dimitrov said.
“Yesterday, Interpressnews released information that Philip Dimitrov considers Irakli Alasnia’s statement unreliable, but if you see the recording, the ambassador never told Eka Beridze that he considers this information unreliable. It’s very unfortunate that the agency made such an interpretation of the ambassador’s statement,” Vako Avaliani, a spokesperson for the Free Democrats, told DF Watch.
Interpressnews Thursday released a statement saying it considers the report about Dimitrov’s TV appearance correct, and the Free Democrats’ accusations of them misinterpreting the ambassador are political pressure on the media.
EU representatives did not make any comments.