A group of fifteen local civil society organizations released a statement on October 4, condemning remarks of the ruling party-endorsed presidential candidate, Salome Zurabishvili, as “xenophobic”.
Zurabishvili remarked at a campaign meeting in the Armenian-majority Ninotsminda Municipality of Samtskhe-Javakheti region, that ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili “granted citizenship to a lot of Turks, but not to you”. CSOs say such a statement invokes historical grievances and thus fans ethnic hatred.
Opposition also capitalized on Zurabishvili’s remarks in Ninotsminda with UNM’s Mikheil Saakashvili saying her statement amounts to the “betrayal of the nation.” European Georgia’s Giga Bokeria slammed the candidate for repeating “the Russian narrative” in a politically-sensitive environment.
Apparently, Zurabishvili was referring to President Mikheil Saakashvili granting Georgian citizenship to over 2,500 Turkish citizens of Georgian descent in September-October 2013, shortly before the end of his term in office.
In criticizing Zurabishvili, the CSOs also noted that this is not the first time she makes to “racist and xenophobic” remarks.
The organizations recalled her Facebook post of January 2013, reading: “the French immigration service is extremely concerned by the Chinese immigration because it has its specific characteristics: the Chinese never die, members of one family can use one identity document, and who would be able to find any difference between them?”
The elections will take place on October 28. For the extended background, follow our Tag on the 2018 Presidential Polls.
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