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Alliance of Patriots rallies: land, faith, military non-alignment and jobs

The Alliance of Patriots, a radical right-wing outfit, rallied several thousand of its supporters ferried from all over the country on Tbilisi’s central Freedom Square on June 15.

The Alliance of Patriots scored 5.01% of the votes in 2016 Parliamentary elections, 0.01% above the threshold, and got 6 MP seats, although 2 MPs have consequently left the parliamentary faction and currently sit as independents. However, three other breakaway MPs joined from the ruling GDDG. Opposition accuses the Alliance of being in cahoots with the ruling party and implied that the administrative support was given to them to cross the threshold in 2016. Despite occasional criticism of GDDG, the Alliance offers support in critical circumstances, such as organizing massive campaign against UNM candidate in 2018, after Salome Zurabishvili, GDDG-endorsed front-runner, failed to win outright.

Controversially, the Alliance also sought to build bridges with Russia, calling for creation of the group of friendship during their visit to State Duma in Moscow in 2017, a move that was criticized by the Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze (GDDG).

The leaders of the Alliance, vice-speaker of the parliament Irma Inashvili, MPs Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi and Ada Marshania hammered home two key messages, using nearly identical wording.

“David Gareji is ours, we won’t concede on borders!”

One central message was tough talk about David Gareji, a medieval monastic complex located about 70 kilometers southeast of Tbilisi, which recently became the focus of border dispute with Azerbaijan. The leaders said  “David Gereji is ours.”

They put the blame for the recent developments around the Gareji monastery on previous and current governments of Georgia.

David Gareji, a medieval monastic complex located about 70 kilometers southeast of Tbilisi, has been one of the major stumbling blocks in the Georgian-Azerbaijani border talks.

Lack of agreement on where the border between the two countries passes came into a sharp focus in the end of April, when Azerbaijani border guards restricted access to parts of David Gareji Monastery. Although the restrictions were soon lifted, activists and local residents, as well as some nationalists rallied, claiming Georgia’s rights to the disputed section.

Georgian-Azerbaijani commission, tasked with border delimitation between the two countries, met on May 14 first and later on May 23-24 in Baku. The next meeting will be held in Tbilisi.

Davit Tarkhkan-Mouravi demanded to punish each and every member of the Georgian-Azerbaijani commission, tasked with border delimitation between the two countries, who are, in his words,“selling out Gareji” as well as “saakashvilis” [referring to former President Mikheil Saakshvili] and “bokerias” [referring to former chair of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria] for pursuing similar policies during the previous administration.

Irma Inashvili voiced similar sentiments, not sparing the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia:

“When the heretics [MPs representing former, UNM administration, current opposition] are teaching us morals – this practice should end in this parliament. All members of GDDG who were lobbying for cohabitation [with UNM/Saakashvili] will be punished!”

“Military non-alignment”

Leaders of the Alliance of Patriots also said forcefully, that Georgia’s s “military non-allignment” was “the only way for survival.”

It was not quite clear what was meant specifically by “military non-alignment”, but substantially limiting cooperation with NATO was clearly meant.

According to MP Tarkhan-Mouravi,  “neither blocs, nor bases, only military non-alignment”, he stated, saying it was “the only way to peace”. He added that the country was “tired of waiting for 30 years” for military protection.

Alliance membesr Giorgi Lomia said they do not want to abandon “partnership with NATO” nor “cooperation with the EU”, but  team refuses to partner with NATO, however, the Alliance finds it “necessary” to cooperate with EU, but “only military non-alignment can save us.”

According to the U.S. National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) recent public opinion survey, 74% of respondents approve the government’s stated goal to join NATO, a four percentage point decrease compared to the previous survey. The number of respondents, who support the government’s stated goal to join the European Union has decreased to 77% from 83% in December 2018.

“Georgiannes”, Faith and now, also social agenda

The Alliance is a nativist group known for promoting “Georgianness” but their traditionally sharp nationalistic messages were now blended with social-populist agenda – with the undertone of Georgians benefiting from them.

Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi said “devotion to the homeland, loyalty to faith and respect for all Georgians” as the main priorities. “Our boys (should) grow up as knights, our girls – as ladies,” he said.

Touching upon the social-economic issues, Tarkhan-Mouravi said “every family [should have] their own business… [let’s say] no to poverty (..,) free lunches to schoolchildren, no to extortion. It is the responsibility of the state to give their business to each and every one of us.”

Inashvili, on her part, underscored that “our homelad means our land, our cultural heritage, our faith – our Orthodox [Christianity] and all of this needs to be protected nowadays.” “They are yielding our lands step by step. This is the great crime and a great treason. This might end!,” she added.

Inashvili said the rallies will continue and more people will join them. “We will not stop until all of our demands are met from overcoming poverty to military non-allignment,” she announced somewhat optimistically.

Read also:

26/11/2018 – Alliance of Patriots Holds Anti-UNM Rallies

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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