Grigol Vashadze, Georgia’s Foreign Minister in 2008-2012, will enter the presidential race in October on behalf of the Strength in Unity movement, a newly-established political platform of ten opposition political parties led by the United National Movement.
Vashadze’s candidacy was presented at an outdoor event in front of the medieval Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi, built during the reign of Bagrat III, the first monarch of the united Georgian Kingdom, and renovated under ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.
The presidential candidate was introduced by Tako Charkviani, a publicist and a TV personality, and Paata Burchuladze, a renowned Georgian operatic bass, in an apparent attempt to stress the candidate’s non-partisan nature.
Grigol Vashadze underlined in his acceptance speech that Georgia’s “national objective” should be to “renew the country’s progress through rapid economic growth, through [achieving] real progress and genuine equality.”
Vashadze also announced that the decision of the ten opposition parties to unite under the Strength in Unity movement was “the first step to achieving national consensus.”
“Everyone knows full well who has been choking the opposition for the last six years, but that we [as the opposition] remained in that situation during all these years is our fault – because of our inaction, our phobias, and because we lost touch with the people,” he noted.
“We will not achieve our national objective, if we continue fighting for votes and not for the conscious choice of voters, particularly those of the Georgian Dream voters … because they are the ones who often see their government’s failures better than us,” he added.
He then slammed the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia for “informal governance, corrupt government, obedient parliament and unfair judiciary,” and announced that he would win the presidential polls “to call early parliamentary elections and replace the parliament that lacks any political and moral legitimacy.”
Giorgi Vashadze of the New Georgia party, who will run the election campaign, spoke next at the event, saying Grigol Vashadze would be “the President of every Georgian citizen.”
“Today is a day of victory; this is a day of victory because so many different individuals and so many ideologically diverse political parties have come together, but above all this is a day of victory because we are united by one common goal – a strong, free Georgia, which will take its place among the world’s leading countries,” Giorgi Vashadze noted.
The Strength in Unity movement includes the UNM and nine non-parliamentary opposition parties: For New Georgia, Serve Georgia, National Democratic Party, State for the People, Christian Conservative Party, Civil Alliance for Freedom, New Georgia, Georgia Among Leaders and European Democrats.
Several opposition leaders have announced their intentions to run in the October presidential polls, including Shalva Natelashvili of the Labor Party, Nino Burjanadze of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, and Zurab Japaridze of the New Political Center – Girchi.
The ruling GDDG party plans to nominate its presidential candidate by the end of summer, according to Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze. As for the incumbent President, Giorgi Margvelashvili has yet to make a decision on running for the second presidential term.