Freedom of speech is essential to a functioning democracy-and we all know this, but sometimes we forget this statement and this means, that our democracy is in danger.
Professor of Columbia university and former political development consultant of "Georgian Dream" Mr.Lincoln Mitchell answers our questions about media transparence and future political course of Georgia
- First of all, I want to ask you about the right of freedom of speech. How important is for us, for georgians to protect this right? I mean we are the country of "young democracy" and all these processes are some kind of new for us
- Freedom of speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Without it, ordinary citizens cannot make informed decisions and cannot participate in their government meaningfully. The absence of freedom of speech makes it much easier for the government to manipulate public opinion and consolidate power. In young democracies like Georgia, the barriers for establishing freedom of speech are significant, but the need for freedom of speech remains clear.
- Will all these events change the attitude of west to us? And how?
- These events will change the attitude of the west. Since the 2012 election, the UNM narrative has been extremely influential in the west, particularly among those who pay attention to foreign policy but are not Georgia specialists. These events will strengthen that narrative. The actual policy implications of this are not clear. The west is not going to cutoff assistance or end the NATO process because of this.
- You were political consultant of "Georgian Dream" and how do you think, can they regulate this process?
- The Georgian Dream would be wise to recognize they have done more to help Rustavi 2 build support for its anti-Georgian Dream through this court case than it Rustavi 2 could have done on its own. Rustavi2 is the kind of annoyance that frustrates governments, but has very little impact. Moreover, even if it did have an impact, that would not be a reason to harass it.
- In your opinion, how can we solve the whole complex of problems which we have now in media transparence?
- I am not sure how big a problem this is. The lack of transparency around media ownership was a policy created by the previous government to conceal the extent to which they controlled the media. Obviously, addressing that is important, but it is not more important than ensuring that there are some opposition media voices.