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Parliament Speaker Makes U-Turn on Rejected Ukraine Trip

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili announced he is ready to visit Ukraine, making an apparent u-turn on his previous rejection of Verkhovna Rada Chair Ruslan Stefanchuk’s invitation to the embattled country.

In a Facebook post, Speaker Papuashvili said that over the past several days he had had “an intensive and friendly communication” with a Ukrainian colleague.

In the talks, the Rada Chair “reiterated his desire to host me in Ukraine to personally share human tragedies and the results of destruction caused by the Russian aggression,” Speaker Papuashvili noted.

The Georgian Parliamentary chairperson underscored that later on April 13, he would have a more extensive talk with the Ukrainian counterpart about “the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine and the European future of our countries.”

“We will discuss Georgia-Ukraine relations and our coordination needs in order to avoid the misunderstandings similar to those that have recently taken place, and to further strengthen historically brotherly bonds between our countries and nations,” Speaker Papuashvili added.

The Parliament Speaker asserted that the communication with the Ukrainian colleague as well as Rada Chair Stefanchuk’s April 12 interview with pro-government Georgian TV network Imedi has convinced him “there is a room for solving every misunderstanding.”

Considering this, Speaker Papuashvili said he talked with the rest of the Georgian Dream leadership, who all agreed that the parliamentary chairperson’s visit “might play an important role in solving” existing issues between the countries.

The development comes after Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze laid out on April 11 three conditions for a high-level trip to Ukraine.

As said by the GD leader, the issues the GD would like to see resolved were: Ukraine’s dismissed ambassador to Georgia, allegations against the authorities of aiding Russia’s smuggling and Georgian “radical opposition leaders being represented at a high level in the Ukrainian Government.”

Today, MP Kobakhidze argued that the GD leadership, including Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, “in the end shared” Parliament Speaker Papuashvili’s “initiative about the visit to Ukraine based on various arguments.”

“It is important for us to express solidarity with Ukraine at the highest level, towards both the people and the state,” the GD chief said, stressing the Speaker’s trip will be crucial in this regard.

MP Kobakhidze noted the party also paid attention to Rada Chair Stefanchuk’s interview with Imedi TV, which he argued contained “very interesting and optimistic” messages about bilateral relations.

The Verkhovna Rada Chair said on April 12 through Imedi TV’s interpreter that Ukraine appreciated the support of the Georgian people, including the large-scale rallies in support of the embattled country, as well as accepting Ukrainian refugees and opening a Ukrainian-language sector at the N41 public school.

He said through the interpreter that the rest of the issues would be resolved between the two states, in the best interests of the two peoples.

The Verkhovna Rada chair also hailed the announcement of a multi-party parliamentary delegation’s visit to Ukraine.

“I have noted that Ukrainians have a lot in common with Georgian friends, because these two countries have been territorially bitten by Russia,” Speaker Stefanchuk said in a Facebook post afterward.

“Together we will definitely win. This will be a victory, about which the legends will be created,” he stressed.

The Georgian Parliament Speaker’s refusal to visit Bucha, the location of alleged mass atrocities by Russia, had been the latest strain put on the ties between Tbilisi and Kyiv amid the war.

Earlier, the Georgian Dream Government came at odds with Kyiv after the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s Intelligence said the Georgian authorities were allowing Russia to open a smuggling channel through the country.

Prior to that, Georgian officials seemingly defied Kyiv’s calls to distance themselves from Moscow’s decision to allow Georgian dairy import.

Also, the Ukrainian Government on March 1 recalled the Ambassador to Georgia over the “immoral position” of PM Irakli Garibashvili’s cabinet on imposing sanctions on Russia and for refusing to allow a plane intended for transporting Georgian volunteers fighters to land in the country. Kyiv subsequently dismissed the Ambassador altogether.

Georgian Dream leadership had meanwhile repeatedly claimed that former United National Movement officials “occupying some quite high positions in Ukraine” were influencing the decisions of the Ukrainian authorities.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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