Sārts: West should use influence in Georgia to sustain democracy

The Georgian government has a tendency to become authoritarian, and the West should use its influence in Georgia to ensure that the democratic processes in the country are sustained, said Jānis Sārts, head of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, in an interview on Latvian Television May 14 evening.

"More and more we have to recognize that the current Georgian government, at least in the forms and ways in which it expresses itself, is far from pro-Western and is increasingly leaning towards Russia in a somewhat covert way. And I do not think that this should come as a surprise. It is enough to remember what the Georgian Government's position has been on the war, on support for Ukraine, on sanctions. So this seems to me to be the next step in a logical chain."

In addition, the government is trying to take control of the last remaining independent media and non-governmental organizations in order to remain in power in October in a very controlled way, said Sārts.

Although the Georgian government is clearly inclined to become an authoritarian system, it is also clear that the Georgian people have no intention of allowing this to happen, and protests are ongoing.

He said that the West, including the Baltic states, should use influence in Georgia so that the democratic processes are sustained.

A group of MEPs has called for "targeted" sanctions against the Georgian politicians who pushed through the foreign agents law and against the Georgian Prime Minister.

"It would be good to avoid big and outrageous condemnations [..]. I think we should look at the economy and work with the carrot and stick principle. You don't get away with the stick, you need both, I think, and the EU has quite large funding programs in this direction," said Sārts.

He added that the ruling forces in Georgia had crossed red lines and "I doubt they have a way back".

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