Viola von Cramon’s reply to the Caucasian House regarding the March 8 Agreement and pardoning of two persons

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and a leading member of DEG (Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group), replied the open letter received from the Caucasian House in English (annexed at the end):

(არაოფიციალური ქართული თარგმანი იხილეთ ქვემოთ)

Dear Caucasian House,

I received your letter.

I started reading it with great interest and finished reading it with equally great disappointment. Through it, I could vividly resonate with the “characters” from Giwi Margwelaschwili’s “Verfasser Unser” touting – “We demand a better writing” (“Wir fordern eine bessere Verfassung”).

As eminent writers, philologists, and academics yourself, you will certainly agree that good writing can only manifest through first doing a good reading.

Being an unconditional and uncompromising friend of Georgia and its people, I stated my position on the recent developments on multiple occasions – most prominently, in the statement published on my webpage on May 13th and widely circulated through Georgian media.

It is a pity that you decided to skip the important step of reading my statement; as it could have saved me the discomfort of writing this letter and saved you even more discomfort of reading it.

Had you first reached out to me, as an ally “united by common political and ethical values” would do, I would have gladly reiterated my position and you would have avoided filling your letter with redundancies and misinformation.

There is also no need to recount to me the cruelties of Saakashvili’s rule. I am very well aware of it. As a member of the German Parliament, I was one of the most ardent critics of Saakashvili’s government, to a degree that I was branded as a persona non grata and actively (but not always successfully) blocked by him and his team from events in Georgia. Back in 2012, I was also one together with millions of Georgians looking up to Georgian Dream with hope and aspiration. Alas, the hope has faded.

Also, there is no need to patronise me. I am au fait with the dubious ways of the United National Movement and that is precisely why I get my information on Georgia predominantly from experts, scholars, diplomats and, quite often, from regular Georgians.

You allege, I “have been actively lobbying for the release of several imprisoned Georgian politicians”. This is a complete and utter lie. In neither my statement nor my interviews have I lobbied releasing anyone. It is also a lie that you suggest that I declared someone “to be a „political prisoner“” as I have never used those words. I take my job with great responsibility and the fate of your country with dear care. This is why I choose my words with precision. Meanwhile, I expect you to choose to read them before making ungrounded accusations.

My suggestion (not a request, not a demand) to the Georgian Government was and is what Georgian people also dreamed for in 2012. Upholding democratic principles and establishing an impartial, transparent, free of political involvement judiciary. Unfortunately, as many independent experts and researchers confirmed, there is a very regrettable backsliding trend taking place in those areas.

Unquestionably, alleged criminals should be prosecuted. Yet, even they deserve a fair trial that is based on hard evidence and is free from the government’s involvement. Otherwise, it is not the democratic Georgia we are all building but a regime that you and other dissidents spent decades vigorously fighting.

Where you and I can agree is the assessment of Georgia’s unique ecosystems. Having visited the country many times, I am fascinated by how much potential Georgia’s green and sustainable energy has. We, the friends of Georgia, are working hard to extend the benefits of the “Green New Deal” beyond the EU’s borders and make sure that Georgia, along with other Eastern Partnership countries, also benefits from it. This will continue Georgia’s unwavering integration into the European family – a will so often expressed by its people.

Sincerely,

Viola von Cramon

_______________________________________________________________________________

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონმა, ევრიპარლამენტის წევრმა და „DEG“-ის (დემოკრატიის მხარდაჭერისა და არჩევნების კოორდინაციის ჯგუფი) წამყვანმა წევრმა, უპასუხა კავკასიური სახლის ინგლისურენოვან ღია წერილს (დართულია ქვემოთ. კავკასიური სახლის წერილის ქართულ ვერსია ხელმისაწვდომია მათ ვებგვერდზე):

დიდად პატივცემულო ქალბატონებო და ბატონებო,

მივიღე თქვენი წერილი.

წერილის კითხვა დავიწყე დიდი ინტერესით და დავასრულე ასეთივე დიდი იმედგაცრუებით. ამ პროცესში გამახსენდნენ „პერსონაჟები“ გივი მარგველაშვილის ნაწარმოებიდან „Verfasser Unser“, რომლებიც გაიძახიან – „ვითხოვთ უკეთეს ნაწერს“ (“Wir fordern eine bessere Verfassung”).

ბრძანდებით რა სახელგანთქმული მწერლები, ფილოლოგები და აკადემიკოსები, უცილობოდ დამეთანხმებით, რომ კარგად წერა შედეგია კარგად კითხვის.

მე, როგორც საქართველოს და მისი ხალხის უპირობო და უკომპრომისო მეგობარს, არაერთხელ გამომიხატავს ჩემი პოზიცია უახლეს მოვლენებზე. ყველაზე ცხადად იგი წარმოჩინდა ჩემს ვებ გვერდზე 13 მაისს გამოქვეყნებულ განცხადებაში, რომელიც ასევე ფართოდ გააშუქა ქართულმა მედიამ.  

სამწუხაროა, რომ თქვენ გადაწყვიტეთ გამოგეტოვებინათ ესოდენ მნიშვნელოვანი ნაბიჯი, რომელსაც განცხადების წაკითხვა ეწოდება. რომ არა ეს, ამაცილებდით მე ამ წერილის წერის , ხოლო საკუთარ თავს, ამ წერილის კითხვის უხერხულობას.

თქვენ რომ მე წინასწარ შემხმიანებოდით, როგორც ეს „საერთო პოლიტიკური და ეთიკური ღირებულებების“ მქონე მოკავშირეს შეშვენის, კიდევ ერთხელ სიამოვნებით განგიმარტავდით ჩემს პოზიციას და ამ გზით თავიდან აირიდებდი თქვენი წერილის სიმცდარითა და დეზინფორმაციით გაჯერებას.

ასევე ზედმეტია ჩემთვის სააკაშვილის რეჟიმის სისასტიკეების შეხსენება. ეს ყველაფერი ჩემთვის კარგადაა ცნობილი. გერმანიის პარლამენტის წევრობისას, მე გახლდით სააკაშვილის მთავრობის ხმამაღალი კრიტიკოსი. ამის გამო მან და მისმა გუნდმა შემრაცხა პერსონა ნონ გრატად და აქტიურად (მაგრამ არა ყოველთვის წარმატებით) ცდილობდნენ საქართველოში ჩატარებულ ღონისძიებებში ჩემს  დაბლოკვას. 2012-ში, მეც, მილიონობით ქართველის გვერდით, იმედით და კეთლი მოლოდინით შევყურებდი ქართულ ოცნებას. ვაი რომ იმედი გახუნდა.

გარდა ამისა, არა ვსაჭიროებ თქვენს მეურვეობას. შესანიშნავად მომეხსენება ერთიანი ნაციონალური მოძრაობის საეჭვო მეთოდები და სწორედ ამიტომ საქართველოს შესახებ ინფორმაციას უდიდესწილად ვიღებ ექპერტებისგან, მკვლევარებისგან, დიპლომატებისგან და ხშირად რიგითი ქართველებისგან.

თქვენ ამტკიცებთ, რომ მე „აქტიურად ვლობირებდი რამდენიმე დატუსაღებული ქართველი პოლიტიკოსის გათავისუფლებას“. ეს არის სრული და მტკნარი სიცრუე. არც ჩემს ოფიციალურ განცხადებაში და არც ინტერვიუებში არ მომითხოვია ვინმეს გათავისუფლება. ასევე სიცრუე როცა ამტკიცებთ, რომ მე თითქოს ვიღაც „პოლიტიკურ პატიმრად“ გამოვაცხადე. არასოდეს გამომიყენებია ეს სიტყვები. მე ჩემს საქმიანობას ვეკიდები უდიდესი პასუხისმგებლობით, ხოლო თქვენი ქვეყნის მომავალს უდიდესი ზრუნვით. სწორედ ამიტომ ვარჩევ სიტყვებს მაქსიმალური სიზუსტით. ამავდროულად მოველი, რომ თქვენ აირჩევთ ამ სიტყვების სწორად წაკითხვას სანამ დაუსაბუთებელი ბრალდებების წაყენებას მიყოფდეთ ხელს.

ჩემი რჩევა (და არა თხოვნა ან მოთხოვნა) საქართველოს მთავრობის მიმართ არის იგივე რაზეც ხალხი 2012 წელს ოცნებობდა. დემოკრატიული პრინციპების პატივისცემა და ობიექტური, გამჭვირვალე და პოლიტიკური ჩარევისგან თავისუფალი სასამართლო სისტემა. სამწუხაროდ, როგორც დამოუკიდებელი ექსპერტები და მკვლევარები ადასტურებენ, ამ სფეროებში ძალიან სამწუხარო უკან დახევის ტრენდი გამოიკვეთა.

უცილობოა, რომ ყველა დამნაშავე უნდა გასამართლეს. თუმცა, დამნაშავეებიც კი იმსახურებენ სამართლიან სასამართლოს რომელის გადაწყვეტილებებიც დაეყრდნობა მყარ მტკიცებულებებს და თავისუფალი იქნება ხელისუფლების ჩარევისგან. სხვა შემთხვევაში გამოვა რომ ყველანი ერთად ვაშენებთ არა დემოკრატიულ საქართველოს, არამედ რეჟიმს რომელსაც თქვენ და სხვა დისიდენტები ათწლეულების განმავლობაში ებრძოდით.

ჩვენ ვთანხმდებით საქართველოს უნიკალური ეკოსისტემის შეფასებისას. არაერთხელ ვყოფილვარ რა საქართველოში, მოხიბლული ვარ  თქვენი ქვეყნის უზარმაზარი პოტენციალით მწვანე და მდგრადი ენერგიის წარმოების სფეროში. ჩვენ, საქართველოს მეგობრები, ვმუშაობთ თავდაუზოგავად, რათა „ახალი მწვანე შეთანხმების“ დადებითი შედეგები გასცდეს ევროკავშირის საზღვრებს და საქართველოსთან ერთად სარგებელი მოუტანოს აღმოსავლეთ პარტნიორობის სხვა ქვეყნებსაც. ეს ნაბიჯები გაამყარებს საქართველოს ევროპულ ოჯახში ურყევი ინტეგრაციის გზას, რომელსაც ქართველმა ხალხმა არაერთხელ გამოუცხადა მხარდაჭერა.

პატივისცემით,

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონი

___________________________________________________________________

ANNEX: the open letter received in English from the Caucasian House and also available in Georgian here:

Dear Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel,

The Caucasian House is one of the oldest public institutions in Georgia, which started its activities in the 70s of the last century. At that time, this multicultural and multiethnic educational organization was known as the Translators’ Collegium, and was a professional center for literary translation, engaged both in translating of the Georgian literary works into world languages, and in translating into Georgian and popularizing the landmark oeuvres of European thought and literature. On this path, the organization had to overcome numerous obstacles created by the official, effectively anti-Western, ideology. Already at that time our center was paying special attention to environmental problems.

In the early 1990s, the Caucasian House became a collective member of the Greens Movement of Georgia. The leading members of our center were actively involved in the launching of the Greens Movement and were the inspirers and leaders of the pan-Caucasian movement: ‘The Caucasus Is Our Common Home’; They also have been fighting for many years against the Soviet technocratic mafia, which was destroying the unique natural environment of Georgia and the Caucasus by its giant infrastructure projects; and, were applying every possible effort to promote the goal of common cultural, ecological and peaceful space in the Caucasus region.

Cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation (the partner organization of The Greens) was of special importance for the Caucasian House and its environmental activities. For many years, with the support of the Boell Foundation, not only numerous multilateral Caucasian environmental and peacebuildng events were held, but also important texts by renowned European green politicians and intellectuals (Petra Kelly, Jürgen Trittin, Rudolf Bahro, Ralph Fuchs, Gerhard Schick) were translated into Georgian. Several of them, along with other conspicuous green figures, have honored our office with visits.

By recalling the history of the Caucasian House, we only wanted to say that we consider you, a member of the European Green Party, as our ally. We believe that we are united by common political and ethical values. Therefore, we would like to share with you the concern of a significant part of the Georgia’s population.

During the last few weeks, among other colleagues you have been actively lobbying for the release of several imprisoned Georgian politicians. Your exceptional diligence, activism and unprecedented efforts have paid off, with the President of Georgia pardoning two offenders and releasing them from prison. We assume that you did not possess complete information about these two gentlemen – Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili – and you might have been influenced by those political forces who are trying to rehabilitate the authoritarian regime of the convicted former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Mr. Gigi Ugulava became the mayor of Tbilisi during the Saakashvili’s authoritarian rule. His name is associated with the destruction of many cultural heritage sites in the capital. For example, we can recall the case of famous cultural heritage sight – Mirza Shafi Street, where, with the illegal permission of Gigi Ugulava’s administration, big investors trampled on civil society protests, razed to the ground a network of streets formed in the early nineteenth century, and destroyed a number of unique architectural structures while leaving their previous inhabitants homeless.

During Ugulava’s rule, Tbilisi became one of the most polluted cities in Europe. Many squares, gardens and public spaces have been privatized, resulting in a critical reduction in the number of recreational areas in the city. Many of us have also seen Gigi Ugulava at the brutal crackdowns on peaceful protests organized by opposition parties during 2007-2011, as he was giving directions to the police to show no mercy toward innocent participants of the protests. Gigi Ugulava is officially convicted by the court for embezzling budget funds: The person that you have declared to be a „political prisoner“ is accused of using 50 million GEL from the capital’s treasury for political party purposes. (e.g. Gigi Ugulava recruited musicians participating in the pre-election concert of the United National Movement filed as employees of the cleaning service of the Tbilisi, and paid them for months huge salaries as compared to those received by ordinary street sweepers).

Dear Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel, it is absolutely incomprehensible to us why you have spent so much time and effort to save the budget embezzler, the person made known for multiple acts of brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations, and of destruction of the city’s landmarks, to rescue this criminal offender and decorate him with the mantle of ‘political prisoner’.

The Caucasian House in its official statement strongly condemned the events of June 20, 2019, when several of our fellow citizens lost their eyesight as a result of the use of disproportionate force by the government, while dozens of activists got injured. However, we are not blaming only the government to be responsible for the tragic outcome of the demonstration. We believe that some opposition forces also took part in the provocative actions when they tried to seize the parliamentary building by force. One of the most active figures among the organizers of the assault was Mr. Irakli Okruashvili, who had been previously convicted by a Georgian court as well. It should also be mentioned that Mr. Okruashvili has in Georgia’s recent history showed himself as the most aggressive and dangerous militarist politician: in the summer of 2004 as a result of the reckless military operation in the Tskhinvali region that he has himself planned, dozens of civilians, soldiers and policemen got killed by Russian and Ossetian military formations. Obviously, many people from the opposing side died as well. In 2006, Defense Minister Okruashvili threatened during the live broadcast on the national TV channels that he would celebrate the New Year’s Eve with his comrades in Tskhinvali. Today, thanks to your efforts, the organizer of the violent attack against the governmental premises, and an adventurer politician, is already trying to gain dividends from being named a ‘political prisoner’.

We understand well, much better than you and your colleagues, that Georgian democracy or the judiciary are marked by a host of serious problems, and we are not going to tolerate this. We sincerely appreciate the assistance of the West aiming to help building new institutions and to implement needed systemic changes. However, it is alarming that often some European politicians, instead of supporting democratic processes, willingly or unwillingly promote the establishment of the most covert and sophisticated forms of neocolonialism in Georgia; instead of assisting the people of Georgia, they throw a lifebuoy to politicians who are corrupt, militarist, criminal offenders, who, among other things, are characterized by a completely parasitic-consumerist attitude towards nature, and threaten to destroy our entire living space.

We would not want you to become engaged in this vicious practice – you being a person who even has experience of communicating with the Tkibuli miners in Georgia, and representing a party that is a successor to the pacifist and environmental movement.

In today’s Georgia, many groups of citizens live under conditions of constant social oppression. Among them, the residents of the highland regions of Georgia are in particularly dire situation: for many years, the inhabitants of Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Adjara and Mtskheta-Mtianeti have been facing poverty and destruction of their living space. At the same time, we deal here with the completely unique natural environment of these highlands: the governments both of Saakashvili and Ivanishvili have developed a project to build about 150 medium and giant hydroelectric power plants there. The government plans to build these hydropower plants with the help of transnational corporations of dubious credibility.

All environmentalists know that giant dams and reservoirs threaten the lives of tens of thousands of people and animals: primeval forests, endemic species, arable lands, vineyards, and ancient cultural monuments. These antiscientific projects are economically unprofitable for Georgia, socially aggressive, and ecologically catastrophic, thus completely contrary to the standards developed by the European Union. It is true that the European Environmental Protection Agency has demanded that the Georgian government should respect the Bern Convention of the Council of Europe to which it is signatory, i.e. to protect its rivers, but the government of this kind would not easily abandon the projects from which they expect to make profit.

This is where we need your help, and not only yours, Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel.

Therefore, instead of helping to free certain criminal offenders from prison, we urge you to stand by us in order to through joint effort save the regions of Georgia, its highlands of unique beauty, – from the wild, neoliberal capitalism and its supporting political forces!

Sincerely,

Naira Gelashvili – Chairman of the Board of the Caucasian House, writer, Germanist, environmentalist

Giorgi Lobzhanidze – Member of the Board of the Caucasian House, orientalist, poet, Professor of the Tbilisi State University

Levan Lortkipanidze – Member of the Board of the Caucasian House, political Scientist

Tea Galdava – Member of the Board of the Caucasian House, historianIvane Abramashvili – Executive Director of the Caucasian House, conflict resolution expert

One Comment on “Viola von Cramon’s reply to the Caucasian House regarding the March 8 Agreement and pardoning of two persons

  1. Pingback: To the Caucasian House: reply to the reply of the reply. | Viola von Cramon

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