During a heated debate in the European Parliament statements made by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton were read out which slammed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's administration for the incorrect and non transparent application of the law to hinder the participation of Opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream movement in the upcoming October Parliamentary elections. http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24969 “We have noted with concern the perception that the government is trying to hinder participation of opposition leader Ivanishvili, resources are deployed against him and laws on party finance are being applied in one-sided way. We must insist that laws are correctly and transparently applied to leave no possible doubt that due process has been followed,” the statement reads. “The EU stresses that politically-motivated persecution, direct or indirect, by law enforcement agencies or use of selective justice against political contenders are not compatible with democratic values.” UK Labour MEP Richard Howitt from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group said it was a right decision that the European Parliament was discussing reports of arrests, impounding of assets and restricted access to media ahead of elections in Georgia. He also said that excluding “opposition-leaning television channels” from some of the cable operators was indefensible and added that these questions were put in the spirit of friendship with Georgia. He also said that the European People's Party (EPP) was about to hold an event in Georgia’s Black Sea resort of Batumi, “which could be interpreted as seeking to help Mr. Saakashvili’s party.” Austrian MEP from the group of Greens, Ulrike Lunacek, said such a debate was needed, because in recent days there had been visits to the European Parliament by representatives from both the opposition and the government conveying opposing views about developments in Georgia. “I think it is not for us to side with any of the party… What I am concerned about and what our debate should be about is to warn Georgians – both the opposition and the government – that war of words and non-transparent conditions is harming image of Georgia,” she said. Bulgarian MEP Kristian Vigenin from group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats said that such a debate should not be perceived as mistrust towards any country. “No one can deny that Georgia has been making a good progress… I ask my colleagues not to exaggerate, but also not to downplay recent developments in Georgia. My impression is that a political war is underway [in Georgia] and the both sides use at full the weapons they possess,” MEP Vigenin said, adding that while government was using administrative and legal resources, the opposition was using Ivanishvili’s financial resources. “If you listen to explanations of the both sides about situation in Georgia you would think that it’s completely two different countries and this is already a single [of a] problem,” MEP Vigenin said.
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