Kremlin-backed leader of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Anatoly Bibilov said on March 30 that his regime will take “appropriate legal steps in the near future” to ensure “unification” with Russia.
The development triggered mixed reactions in Tbilisi, as ruling Georgian Dream lawmakers seemingly downplayed Bibilov’s announcement, while the opposition politicians argued the Tskhinvali leader’s intentions were a result of the Government’s cautious stance toward Russia.
Civil.ge compiled some of the political reactions to Bibilov’s announcement:
Ruling Party Reactions:
Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of Parliament: “In principle, this is not new, as there are such appeals in the occupied territories periodically. […] But of course, no referendum in the occupied territories has any legitimacy. There were [such] attempts and addresses before as well, but this obviously has no results in terms of the law.”
Gia Volski, First Vice-Speaker of Parliament: “It is the pre-election period [in Tskhinvali] and this topic has again come to the forefront. It is not surprising that Bibilov, or anyone else, tries to be perceived as being under Russia’s banner and attain success in that way. […] This is the only thing that the South Ossetian authorities, or other candidates for that matter, cling to. They have no other offers to the population of the Tskhinvali Region. […] It would also have severe [consequences] for Russia to take another step in violation of the international law to such a degree.”
Irakli Kadagishvili, Chair of Parliamentary Procedural Issues and Rules Committee: “If anyone thinks we will because of [this] provocation, we will take provocative steps that would enable Russia to carry out a big provocation in Georgia, we will not. […] What do you imagine, if we were tougher, more assertive and provocative would Bibilov become softer or get afraid? […] I reiterate that we [must] be focused on national interests and not on deepening the provocation. […] A provocation begins with a statement, every war begins with a statement.”
Mikheil Saakashvili, Former President of Georgia: “What is happening now is what I had warned everyone about during the last year. All this ‘borderization’ that the Georgian Government neglected was in preparation for the annexation of Tskhinvali. They [GD Government] thought that if they laid low, Russia would not do it. Their multi-year propaganda ran to waste with one address by Bibilov. We therefore practically remain without allies, marginalized in face of this large threat. Maybe at least now they will come to their senses and take steps toward unity and cooperation with the international community.”
MP Tina Bokuchava, United National Movement: “Russia discussing the annexation of our occupied territories, especially at this time, is of course not surprising. However, I am sure that Ukraine will without a doubt score a strategic victory in this war in the coming days, and thus Georgia will also become part of this victory.”
Badri Japaridze, Lelo party leader: “The completely spineless and capitulatory policy fuels the appetite of the force hostile to us. […] It seems Moscow decided that the Georgian Dream creates advantageous grounds for them to officiate the annexation.”
Giorgi Vashadze, MP, Strategy Aghmashenebeli leader: “What do you think, Bibilov made the statement on his own?! Is this his stance or that of Russia?! A dignified, principled stance would bring results, otherwise, you will always receive such a response from Russia, which is an aggressor, occupier…”
Iago Khvichia, MP, New Political Center – Girchi leader: “We should respond to this with genuine integration with the West, so that this problem is not only understandable for us, but for the entire world; that Russia, despite carrying out aggression in Ukraine, has not stopped and will not stop unless it receives a different, appropriate response.”
- Tbilisi Decries Proposed Tskhinvali Referendum to Join Russia
- Moscow Wants Referendum Before Annexing S. Ossetia