Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has initiated to create an Office of the Media ombudsman, according to information shared by the administration of the Government of Georgia. The initiative invites “for cooperation European media experts and specialists who have proved in deed their professionalism.” The initiative was presented by Prime Minister Kvirikashvili at a meeting on March 6th with the country’s NGO sector. The Prime Minister said that the office would observe the media environment and its development in Georgia.
Prime Minister Kvirikashvili noted that: “I would like to emphasize that we honor decisions, recommendations and ideas from European institutions that make a special contribution to our country's democratic development.” The Prime Minister said this is the attitude the government has regarding the ECHR decision on suspending the implementation of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the ownership of Rustavi 2 TV company.
The Prime Minister emphasized that it is in the government’s interest to protect media pluralism and freedom of speech, and that was the motivation to create the Office of the Media ombudsman. “I am publicly inviting for cooperation European media experts and specialists who have proved in deed their professionalism,” he said. “The Office of Media Ombudsman will continuously monitor the country's media environment and development, including the processes involving Rustavi 2, the Public Broadcaster, and the media environment as a whole.”
On March 2nd, the Supreme Court of Georgia made a decision to grant ownership of the Rustavi 2 TV Company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. The implementation of the decision was then suspended by the European Court of Human Rights on March 3rd.
28 non-governmental organizations in Georgia called for the Strasbourg court to “use the right of temporary suspension mechanism until a final decision is made.” According to Transparency International Georgia, “this is especially important given that throughout the discussion of the case on the national level there have been questions regarding the independence, impartiality of the judges and political motivations of the government.”
The case received wide international attention from diplomatic organizations and members of European Parliament. The EU Delegation to Georgia and the U.S. Embassy Tbilisi also issued official statements raising concerns regarding freedom of media and freedom of speech in Georgia.
Tbilisi City Court and the Appellate Court of Georgia 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 final and cannot be appealed to another court in Georgia.