The Dispatch

The Dispatch – 23 January

INDECENT EXPOSURE If you follow Georgian news at all, you should be appraised of the so-called “Cartographers’ Case” – an investigation into an alleged literal sale of the motherland by two civil servants. The prosecutors, who are hard-pressed to show intent in an alleged crime that did not finally occur (after all, no border treaty was signed with Azerbaijan) have resorted to the oldest trick in the book – trying to sway public opinion by showing covert recordings. In them, one of the suspects is discussing the border talks at length with Foreign Ministry official, his superior. The camera was apparently planted in the MFA premises. No doubt that the Georgian diplomats are quietly upping their discontent from “miffed” to “livid” on the British scale. After all, it is embarrassing enough that the prosecutors are snooping within the Ministry. Yet another – that they make the diplomats’ work, which hinges on confidentiality, public.

OVERFLOWING Georgian authorities have announced yet another bout of COVID-19-related restrictions. Schools, most hospitality businesses and public transport in Tbilisi remain stopped, and the nighttime curfew is maintained. This time the simmering popular discontent seems to be overflowing – parents of pupils and some business owners plan to hit the streets. Popular confidence in government’s ability to competently manage the new stage of pandemic-world – this time the vaccination – is significantly dented by the scare of the last wave of infections, and with no end of restrictions in sight, the grumbling fatigue is setting in. Would that bring about mass social protest, as many opposition leaders hope, or will the protest be constrained to angry social media posts? Coming weeks will show.

IT TAKES THREE TO TANGO The Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani has hosted his Armenian counterpart in a wine-rich Kakheti district and also spoke with his Azerbaijani colleague the same evening. The sides have been mum about content, but it seems the three neighbors try to work through the uncertainty brought by the end of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and the new Russian “piecekeeping” mission there. The modalities of trade routes gain particular prominence for Georgia, as the ceasefire deal included provisions for opening North-South road and rail connections that link Russia and Iran, as well as Turkey and Russia.

SERENADING BRUSSELS The Georgian President landed in Brussels to lobby for closer ties. To the credit of the Georgian diplomats at the EU, they have prepared an impressive lineup of meetings with all of the top EU Council, Commission, and the EU Parliament officials. Yesterday’s chat with the NATO Secretary-General gave Mrs. Zurabishvili a chance to ask NATO to be more ambitious, while her host asked for more convincing reforms. This kind of conversation is likely to be the order of the day for the years to come, especially if the government intends to make good on its promise and apply for EU membership by 2024.

That’s all for today, we’d get back with the bizarre and the curious in Georgia’s politics on Monday!


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