GD, Opposition Agree on Joint Ukraine Trip, UNM Rejects

The ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition parties have agreed on a joint trip to Ukraine, but United National Movement has refused to join the delegation.

The parliamentary delegation, to be led by Speaker Shalva Papuashvili, will reportedly include Vice Speakers Archil Talakvadze and Davit Sergeenko and Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee Chair Beka Odisharia from the GD, Vice Speaker Levan Ioseliani of Citizens Party, Ana Natsvlishvili of Lelo, Giorgi Khojevanishvili of For Georgia, Vakhtang Megrelishvili of New Political Center – Girchi and Khatuna Samnidze of Strategy Aghmashenebeli-led Reformers group.

United National Movement’s parliamentary faction chair Khatia Dekanoidze said it would not be “right” for the party to participate in the delegation with the GD.

Citing Speaker Papuashvili’s previous rejection of Verkhovna Rada Chair Ruslan Stefanchuk’s invitation to visit embattled Ukraine, MP Dekanoidze argued the visit would not “change the attitude” of the GD leadership toward Ukrainian officials.

Still, she welcomed the planned trip and those who have decided to go.

MP Dekanoidze also said that if the opposition decides to make a separate visit to Ukraine down the line, the UNM would be willing to join in.

The UNM leader also reminded reporters that she has already visited Ukraine amid the war, in late March, alongside fellow UNM MP Davit Khajishvili and General Secretary of the party Petre Tsiskarishvili.

Responding to the largest opposition party’s refusal to participate, GD Chair Irakli Kobakhidze said the delegation was assembled “ideally.”

“It is very good that the United National Movement will not be represented in this visit,” he argued. “The UNM, which is a party of war, should of course not be alongside the Georgian Dream, the Parliament Speaker.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the opposition was quick to criticize the UNM over the decision.

Vice-Speaker Levan Ioseliani dubbed the move “unfortunate.”

“The argument that you will not sit on a plane or in a car with someone is not serious, it is childish,” he argued, adding “with that logic you should not sit at the Parliament or partake in anything where a force or a politician undesirable for you is present.”

Meanwhile, MP Samnidze of the Reformers group found it baffling that the UNM participated in the initial negotiations with the Georgian Dream about the visit and then decided to refuse.

She further said in the talks, the “entire parliamentary opposition demanded to assemble a mixed, widely representative delegation.”

The negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition took place yesterday. Speaker Papuashvili announced afterward that he had offered the opposition three places on the delegation, and three other GD members would also participate.

But the offer was dissatisfactory for the opposition politicians, including Vice-Speaker Ioseliani and MP Dekanoidze who said afterward that the opposition would stick to its earlier plans and conduct a separate, multi-party trip to the embattled country.

Later, on April 14, Speaker Papuashvili announced that following the opposition’s refusal, the ruling party had offered each opposition group to name a member for the delegation.

“It will be a delegation of an opposition majority, but considering the circumstances, I think this offer was right,” he explained.

Earlier Developments 

The Georgian Parliament Speaker initially rejected his Ukrainian colleague’s invite on April 8, dubbing it “inappropriate” amid the recall of the Ukrainian Ambassador to Georgia and accusations of Kyiv over Georgian officials allegedly aiding Russia’s smuggling.

Soon after the development, Vice-Speaker Ioseliani announced he had coordinated with the rest of the opposition groups and everyone had agreed on a joint trip to Ukraine.

Later, Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze said on April 11 that the ruling party was also ready to send some of its lawmakers to Ukraine, but would refrain from a high-level trip unless Ukraine agreed to three preconditions.

Speaker Papuashvili however made an unexpected u-turn on his rejection on April 13, announcing that he would pay the visit to Ukraine and beginning to work on forming the delegation with the opposition.

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