Keti Khutsishvili, Open Society Foundation
There is a term “competitive authoritarianism”, which has been used for about twenty years in relation to South American countries, and more recently to describe the rule of some post-Soviet countries. In this type of government, on the one hand, there is competition, elections are held, and there is a variety of political parties and media outlets, but, despite all this, the party that has power in the country is still the one that wins. This term accurately describes the reality of Georgia. Despite the fact that we have a diverse media, we hold elections, we have many political parties, the result hasn’t changed for ten years. It is unfortunate that competitive authoritarianism is not permanent – it either leans toward democracy or towards total authoritarianism, towards dictatorship. “Today we cannot say that there is a dictatorship in Georgia, but there may be a threat of its establishment.” – Keti Khutsishvili, Open Society Foundation.
Discussion on Formula TV about current events in the country, pressure on the media, and the prospect of the EU candidate country status.
Khatia Jinjikhadze, Open Society Foundation
“It’s time to stop self-flagellation and pointless debates about why the government behaves the way it does, what is behind it, and so on. Evaluations have been made. The time for evaluations is over. Now we, the society, have to think about the danger we are facing and what we can do about it. We keep saying that this is the way the government behaves. We have understood that the government behaves like this. They win the fight against the media only in the conditions of dictatorship. No government can win the fight against the media in a state that is arranged differently. We have neighboring countries where there is no longer free media. If we believe that this cannot happen to us, we are deceiving ourselves. It is wrong to believe that we are Georgians and they cannot tame us, they will tame us perfectly well, one perfect day you will find yourself living in a dictatorship and we shall lose everything.
Today we are not speaking only about Nika Gvaramia. We are speaking about the fact that tomorrow a journalist may not be free to tell us something, or we may not be able to say what we want to say. The movie screening was canceled recently. What does this mean? Tomorrow some official may wish to cancel a screening and he will tell me that I should not see it. Or he decides that the protection of our cultural heritage should be entrusted not to a professional but to an official who understands nothing of the matter. If this process goes smoothly, tomorrow there will be an attack on TV Pirveli, Formula One, online media, and beyond. Therefore, we must all think about what to do, think about civil, peaceful protest, so that we can change this reality on our own.” – Khatia Jinjikhadze, Open Society Foundation.