Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted on January 24 a resolution calling for strengthening independence and diversity of the public and private media in Georgia.
The resolution “Attacks Against Journalists and Media Freedom in Europe” was adopted with 110 votes to 15. Both opposition and ruling party lawmakers of the Georgian delegation supported the resolution.
The resolution says that it “welcomes” Georgian legislation, which “provides a framework for freedom and stability of the media as well as the law on broadcasting,” but “encourages all responsible authorities to continue strengthening the independence and diversity of the public and private media.”
The Assembly reiterated the concerns expressed in PACE’s Resolution 2035 (2015), stating that it regrets “the past and continuing changes in media ownership in Georgia, which have an impact on media pluralism and diversity in Georgia.”
“Efforts to change the ownership of the country’s most popular pro-European TV station have caused continual concern among many international interlocutors and in civil society,” the statement reads refering to the ongoing ownership dispute over Rustavi 2.
GDDG lawmakers requested removal of the two clauses, arguing that Rustavi 2 maintained independent editorial policy and that its management remains the same, but the motion was outvoted with 98 votes against 24. “Rustavi2 maintains a critical position towards the government and is constantly progressing. Maestro TV shares have not been acquired by a new shareholder. No legal case has been submitted to the court regarding ownership of the company,” GDDG-drafted explanatory note stated.
According to the resolution, the Assembly also “notes with deep concern” that media freedom “is absent in other territories of member States which are de facto controlled by separatist regimes, namely in Nagorno-Karabakh of Azerbaijan, Abkhazia and South Ossetia of Georgia, and Transnistria of the Republic of Moldova.”
The resolution was based on a report compiled by Ukrainian lawmaker Volodymyr Ariev, chairman of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE, a body which is made of 324 lawmakers from the parliaments of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states.