EU Ambassador Janos Herman's comments on Rustavi 2 made on 6 November 2015 (06/11/2015)

EU Ambassador Janos Herman's comments on Rustavi 2 made on 6 November at 11 am, following the EU-Council of Europe coordination meeting

I read this in the press this morning and I have also been informed about statements made by several actors. However I will need to talk with all the main protagonists  of this process before forming a full opinion, which I hope I can do this later in the day.

What I can say now is that yesterday evening I went to bed  knowing about a court decision, the ruling in the Rustavi 2 case.

It was our understanding that the appeals process would run its course, during which the court ruling in favour of the plaintiff would not be executed.

What I can say now is that decision about changing the management of Rustavi 2 also might have implications and in this context might have political implications. This is also being followed by us.

I have always stressed that we do not have an opinion on the merits of individual cases , but we follow very closely the implications of this process.

It remains very important for us to preserve political pluralism, freedom of the media and rule of law.

This morning we have spoken about a Council of Europe programme. There have been many programmes with a focus on strengthening democracy  and rule of law in the country, and Georgia has achieved considerable progress. It is very important for Georgia and also for the European Union not just to preserve what has been achieved but also to further consolidate this process.

EU Ambassador Janos Herman's interview with Maestro TV, 6 November 2015, 13:00

I always stress that political pluralism, media pluralism and media freedom are among the most important components  for  our approximation with Georgia. In that sense they have a direct connection with the association agreement. There is absolutely no doubt about this.

On the other hand, and it is also important to say, we have done quite a lot to develop the judiciary in Georgia. A very important part of the EU grant went to the judiciary reforms. We believe that these reforms will bear fruits; in order to do that we need to have full respect to independence of the judiciary. Therefore this is also a very important value also in the context of our cooperation and the Association Agreement.

Now, on the specific issue of Rustavi it is important to say that  we do not make comments on specific cases, on the merits of specific cases which are before the courts, because – yes, we also fully respect the independence of the judiciary.

On the other hand, we understand that Rustavi 2 case, as it progresses, has iimportant political implications and has implications firstly for the respect of media pluralism, and I will say also that it has implications for the general political image of the country. Therefore we follow these events very carefully.

I've said this morning that yesterday evening I went to bed assuming that there was a court ruling according to which the ruling would not be executed immediately and there was space for further appeals. And I woke up this morning and I read different reports from the media and public statements according to which the situation might not entirely be so.

I need to talk, obviously with all important protagonists in order to formulate further judgement   but I would like to say that, obviously, there is concern that this is very serious; we will have contacts with all to understand what goes on. But the expectation yesterday was clearly that this process will go ahead in the sense that there will be space for an appeal.

So there is concern and we will continue to monitor this case because we see very wide and important political implications.