Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze has lashed out at EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell over the diplomat’s critical remarks on the governing party’s decisions to expel three opposition MPs from the Parliament, and to move on with appointments to the forthcoming Special Investigation and Personal Data Protection agencies.
In an extended interview with Palitra News TV late on February 16, MP Kobakhidze argued none of the Ambassador’s statements were “fair and unbiased, and this is exactly why they are not interesting for us in this regard.”
“Any unbiased assessment, including a critical one, would have been interesting for us,” the GD chair noted, adding the governing party “will naturally pay less attention” to statements that they perceive to be unfair or biased.
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The ruling party chair also criticized President Salome Zurabishvili, who said on February 15 that she disagreed with the termination of the opposition lawmakers’ legislative mandates.
“Salome Zurabishvili is not the Parliament,” he remarked, going on to argue that anyone can voice their opinions over the GD MPs’ decisions but in the end, the legislature is “responsible for the decision.”
Recalling the opposition boycott over “rigged” 2020 parliamentary elections, the GD leader claimed neither the President nor the EU Ambassador “could make sure that the [opposition’s] sabotage against the Parliament would be stopped.”
“There were some calls that they [opposition MPs] should have entered the Parliament, but you remember that there were no necessarily strict statements,” he maintained, adding “everything that eventually happened was a result of this.”
Noteworthy, Ambassador Hartzell, alongside U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan facilitated the lengthy negotiations between the GD and the opposition parties to resolve the political impasse of 2020, a process that subsequently evolved into talks under European Council President Charles Michel’s mediation. On July 28, 2021, the Georgian Dream unilaterally quit the EU-brokered April 19 deal between the parties, a result of the said mediation.
MP Kobakhidze’s remarks come as the latest exchange between the ruling party and EU officials and diplomats, amid already strained between the GD government and Brussels over the controversial Supreme Court and High Council of Justice appointments, GD’s preemptive refusal of conditional EU loan, and Georgia’s alleged spying on western diplomats, to name a few.
The Georgian Dream controversially abolished the outspoken State Inspector’s Service in a matter of a week in late December 2021, establishing instead the Special Investigation and Personal Data Protection agencies.
Meanwhile, the ruling party lawmakers on February 15 expelled from the Parliament Lelo’s Badri Japaridze over the Tbilisi City Court’s guilty verdict of fraud in the controversial TBC Bank case, and Labor chair Shalva Natelashvili and Droa leader Elene Khoshtaria over their absence from plenary sittings.
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