At a special briefing today, President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili commented on the Supreme Court’s decision to grant ownership of Rustavi 2 TV Company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. President Margvelashvili stated that the case was politicized from the very beginning and that Rustavi 2 TV is not just a business.
“I’m not commenting on the private dispute between the owners. However, I want to say that Rustavi 2 is not just a business like every other media outlet; it represents an important part of our societal-political life; it is a possibility to express critical and opposing opinions, which itself is very important for a democratic society and for Georgia’s European future," stated President Margvelashvili.
President Margvelashvili also added that “international partners don't see this as just a legal dispute, but as a political process which influences media freedom and pluralism."
Government of Georgia also issued an official statement which reads as follows:
“Firstly, the Government of Georgia calls on the respect of democratic institutions. It is clear, that the Rustavi 2 dispute takes place against the backdrop of an unfortunate legacy.
The ownership rights have been disputed in the court for several years now. This case has been judged by three instances of the independent judiciary and the final decision of returning the TV Company to its legal owner was made by Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court by unanimous decision of nine Supreme Court Justices.
Government of Georgia has a full appreciation and respect towards the freedom of media and does everything to protect and ensure pluralistic media environment. We strongly believe that the respect of the decisions of democratic institutions is essential to the development of the country. At the same time, the Government will spare no effort in ensuring that media freedom and the freedom of speech is protected.”
The Supreme Court of Georgia made a decision to grant ownership of the Rustavi 2 TV Company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. The decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia is final. Rustavi 2 held a demonstration in front of the Supreme Court while the court was in session, saying that they will not allow the government to change the editorial policy of the station. Several opposition parties have expressed their support for the TV company.
The Supreme Court of Georgia, started the hearing of the case on March 2. Tbilisi City Court and the Appellate Court of Georgia have previously decided to grant 100% ownership of the TV company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi; his sister has been an MP for the Georgian Dream party since 2012. Rustavi 2 applied to appeal the decisions to the Supreme Court. The decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia is the final one and cannot be appealed to another court in the country.