In a joint address by a group of Georgian journalists and media organizations urged U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, who will arrive in Tbilisi on July 22, to also focus on media-related problems during his visit.
The appeal, which also addresses the Georgian authorities, calls on the government to set the national television stations free from its “press” and to make television stations’ ownership issues transparent. In this context the statement raises issue of Imedi TV’s disputed ownership and calls on the authorities to return the television under the ownership of late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili’s family.
The statement also calls on the authorities to investigate cases of attacks on journalists, including the one of June 15 outside the Tbilisi police headquarters.
“Mr. Vice President, we request you to get interested with these facts and to assess them, which will be the American people’s and personally your contribution to strengthening of young Georgian democracy, freedom of speech and expression. We also want to note that resolving problems related with freedom of speech is in line with the U.S.-Georgian Charter on Strategic Partnership,” the statement reads.
The joint address is signed by two television stations – Maestro and Kavkasia; newspapers – Rezonansi; Akhali Taoba; Kviris Palitra; Georgian Times; the English-language daily Messenger; Asaval-Dasavali; the Russian-language Svobodnaya Gruzia; Versia; Kvela Siakhle; magazines – Gza; Tbiliselebi; Rating; radio stations – Palitra; Ucnobi; news agencies – InterPressNews; GHN; Pirveli; ExpressNews; media.ge and gevision.tv websites.
Media-related problems have been raised by Peter Semneby, the EU’s special representative for South Caucasus, in his article contributed to a publication by British think-tank Foreign Policy Center – Spotlight on Georgia. In his piece Semneby says that the issue of media transparency, including transparency of ownership of media outlets, is a key concern.”
“In this regard there is a need to establish an independent media oversight mechanism in order to effectively address shortcomings in this area. There is more that can be done by the government to comprehensively address this issue,” the EU diplomat writes.