Georgia between interests and values.

Georgia between interests and values.
Washington and Brussels condemned the verdict of the Azerbaijani court against opposition journalist Afgan Mukhtarly and demanded that Tbilisi conduct a timely, transparent and full-fledged investigation into the circumstances of his abduction from the Georgian capital on May 29, 2017.
The Georgian authorities faced a difficult choice between maintaining good-neighborly relations with Azerbaijan, which since this year has become the only natural gas supplier to the country, and compliance with democratic norms – in accordance with its obligations to the Western community.
The US State Department again called on the Georgian authorities “timely and fully” to investigate the case of the abduction from Tbilisi of the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarly, who disappeared from the Georgian capital on the evening of May 29 last year.
The next day Mukhtarli was found in the Baku detention center. The journalist himself claims that he was abducted from the center of Tbilisi by officers of the Georgian criminal police, speaking Georgian, force pushed into the car, taken to the Georgian-Azerbaijani border and handed over to the authorities of Azerbaijan.
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According to another version, Azerbaijani special services watched for several months in Tbilisi an opposition journalist and kidnapped him without coordinating their actions with the Georgian authorities. But in this version, few believe in the Georgian expert community. In the meantime, the opposition party of Mikhail Saakashvili & quot; United National Movement & quot; repeatedly demanded the resignation of the entire government in connection with the “Mukhtarly case”, accusing Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili of violating elementary democratic norms. In the case of kidnapping a journalist in Georgia, a criminal case was opened, and the head of the counterintelligence department of the State Security Service and head of the Border Police were suspended from the posts until the end of the investigation.
Former Interior Minister Georgy Mgebrishvili, shortly before his resignation, hinted that in fact, no one was kidnapping Afgan Mukhtarly from Tbilisi, he was allegedly lured to the border as a result of a clever provocation and was arrested while trying to transfer a large amount of money to an Azerbaijani journalist in so-called . & quot; green border zone & quot ;.
The Azerbaijani court sentenced Afgan Mukhtarly, the author of a number of journalistic investigations against the family of President Aliyev, to a six-year prison sentence “for illegally crossing the Georgian-Azerbaijani border”.
Meanwhile, the European Union, following the US, published an official statement on the EU website, which also called on the Georgian government to conduct a “full and transparent investigation”.
Petra Mamradze, the former head of the state chancellery, who for many years took direct part in resolving the most complex and delicate diplomatic conflicts, told RFE / RL that the current government did not take the necessary “preventive measures” that could solve the problem before its extreme exacerbation.
– Of course, the Georgian authorities showed in this case not even simply “ineptitude”, but “bungling”. Of course, Georgia can not become a “reserve” for dissidents from Azerbaijan or Turkey who are struggling with the regimes existing in these countries. We do not have such opportunities: Georgia is not the US, “Mamradze said. “But everything could be solved without such excesses.” It was necessary to talk “with whom it is necessary”, and Mukhtarly could be in Europe, Holland or Germany with the status of political refugee. And instead. the policemen, without taking off their uniforms, kidnapped a man and handed them over to the Azerbaijani authorities. This is a terrible blow to the prestige of Georgia, but now there is no way back, as Mukhtarly does not return. This kidnapping will remain a “black spot” on the reputation of our country.
– That is, in your opinion, it would be reasonable on the part of the Georgian authorities, “from sin far away” advise Mukhtarly to simply leave Georgia for the same Europe?
– Of course! After all, the Azerbaijani press published articles stating that Georgia “swears in friendship to Azerbaijan, but turned into a haven for destructive forces seeking to overthrow their beloved leader with the help of the US State Department.” So the question had to be solved in a timely manner. For many years I worked in state structures and I know how it is done. The western countries themselves would have informed Mukhtarly and other oppositionists: “Your security here can not be provided,” and they could go to the West, and Georgia would retain its image, “Petre Mamradze said.
According to political scientist Tornike Sharashenidze, Georgia has only to conduct an investigation and severely punish officials who are behind the kidnapping of the journalist.
– Georgia does not face a choice between Azerbaijan and the West! Just need to investigate and punish the perpetrators. That’s all. It seems that someone was removed from office, but these officials only became “scapegoats”: for kidnapping Mukhtarly there are much more serious forces from the Georgian side, “Sharashenidze believes.
“However, fact is a fact: the Georgian authorities have been unable to investigate the incident with the journalist’s abduction for several months.
– Because someone who is very influential is behind this kidnapping. The Azeris wanted to “get” Mukhtarly, and they “got it”. Nobody at them it any more “will not select”. Thus, Georgia will not spoil relations with Azerbaijan, having conducted an independent, objective investigation of this incident.
Professor of Tbilisi University Ilia George Nodia says that the government will try to minimize “image losses” countries.
– Georgian authorities are trying to act pragmatically. They want & quot; better look & quot; in the eyes of Washington and Brussels, but this does not mean that they are really committed to democratic values. The authorities made their choice when they did not prevent the abduction of Mukhtarli. Worse, most likely, they took part in this directly. Now they are trying to minimize the problems for the image of Georgia. They are no longer given another.
– If as a result of an “objective and transparent investigation” it turns out that the journalist was really kidnapped by the Azerbaijani special services from the center of Tbilisi without agreement with the Georgian side, this will negatively affect the relations between the two neighboring countries?
“That’s why Georgia does not want to spoil relations with either Baku, Washington, or Brussels. Most likely, they will not do anything, but will repeat that the investigation is continuing: “Here we have dismissed two officials, that is, we are doing all that we can, but we can no longer”. & quot; Actions & quot; governments will be expressed in their inaction. It is unlikely that it will either come up with the best in the situation, – believes Georgy Nodia.
The Georgian Interior Ministry told Radio Liberty that while there are no news on the case of kidnapping of the Azerbaijani journalist, hundreds of witnesses have been questioned and all videos from the place of the alleged kidnapping of Afghan Mukhtarli have been examined.
George Kobaladze.
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