German Ambassador’s Remarks Stir Controversy in Georgia
Recent remarks over the content of March 8 Agreement made by German Ambassador to Georgia Hubert Knirsch have stirred controversy in Georgia’s political circles.
Talking to reporters on June 26, the German Ambassador argued that March 8 deal between the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties did not refer to Giorgi Rurua, the shareholder of opposition-leaning Mtavari Arkhi TV.
The Georgian opposition claims that the release of Rurua, a “political prisoner,” is part of the compromise reached with the ruling Georgian Dream party. The ruling party denies it has pledged the release of Rurua and others in any form.
Ambassador’s comments were met with criticism from some opposition leaders. Giga Bokeria of the European Georgia party reacted by saying the Ambassador seemed “lost in translation” and was seeking to “find a way out” of the controversy.
Shalva Natelashvili, the leader of the Labor Party, went so far as to accuse the German envoy of being on a payroll of the Georgian Dream, the ruling party. In the same statement, he said the German government must recall its ambassador and slammed the German authorities for being “pro-Russian.”
Meanwhile, the ruling party released a statement presenting apologies to the German envoy, saying the statements voiced by opposition leaders “grossly violated the basic norms of ethics and civility.”
This is not the first time Ambassador Knirsch courts controversy recently. On June 25, the German Embassy published a statement quoting Knirsch, who raised concern over the appeal by Georgian rights groups to the UN Child Rights Committee demanding to reject the candidacy of Sopio Kiladze, the Parliament Human Rights Committee chair. The Ambassador scolded local watchdogs for engaging in “attacks of a personal nature,” which he said was “regrettable” amid the “deplorably polarized political landscape” of Georgia.
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