Hearing of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s annual report to the Georgian Parliament has quickly devolved into chaotic discussion full of invectives and mutual accusations. PM went as far to suggest sedatives to several opposition lawmakers who were interrupting his statement. Faced with the barrage of criticism, the Prime Minister mumbled at the rostrum that “all of them need [medical] treatment.”
During his hour-and-half long speech, PM Garibashvili attempted to portray the massive rally on June 20 as being not against his government’s performance, but mostly in support of the European aspiration. He then spoke about his government’s role in attaining Georgia’s leading position in various international rankings, and doubled down on some “traitor” opposition MPs who allegedly worked against Georgia’s immediate EU candidacy.
The Prime Minister criticized the European Commission’s opinion that differentiated Georgia from Moldova and Ukraine, claiming the recommendation was not a merit-based but derived from a geopolitical situation and on the recognition that Ukraine is at war.
According to Garibashvili, some European colleagues told him personally that Ukraine would be granted the status due Russia’s attack, while Moldova’s candidacy would be greenlighted for the country’s proximity to the war theater, even though Georgia was the “undisputed leader in all respects.”
“All of our European friends know well that we are the unconditional leaders in the Associated Trio,” the PM went on, adding that the Georgian Government had expectations that “if anyone from the Associated Trio deserved [EU candidate] status” it was Georgia.
The Prime Minister said while the Commission’s “emotional decision” is disappointing, the Government continues to await a final decision from the European Council on Georgia’s EU candidacy.
Downplaying the gravity of the Commission’s suggestions, PM claimed that the government is ready to work on any necessary reforms “a large part of which were outlined in the Association agenda anyway.”
Building on the Georgian Dream’s now habitual narrative that some westerners are trying to “drag Georgia into war”, the Prime Minister said Georgian soldiers have given their lives for NATO operations and European ideals, but for some reason the sacrifice was not recognized. Georgia was being “punished for not being at war today,” the PM remarked bitterly.
Of “Enemies” and Traitors
The Prime Minister proceeded to assign blame, claiming he was told by unnamed “European friends” how the Georgian opposition and European People’s Party (EPP) acted as Georgia’s “enemies” by drafting the European Parliament’s “shameful” resolution targeting the country’s EU bid.
Singling out opposition Lelo MP Salome Samadashvili, Georgia’s former EU envoy, the Prime Minister said Samadashvili traveled to Brussels to personally work against Georgia receiving the candidate status immediately. PM’s claim was rebuffed by Members of the European Parliament.
“Know the traitor,” Prime Minister said, pointing to MP Samadashvili in his address to the Parliament.
The Prime Minister reiterated that the Georgian Dream government had done the “maximum” to bring the country closer to Europe, adding that if any harm had occurred in this process it was at the hands of the forces working against the country.
Turning to criticism over Georgia’s perceived inaction in joining international sanctions against Russia, the PM questioned what it would mean for one million Georgian citizens living in Russia [these oft-repeated estimate by PM is disputed as exaggerated— Civil.ge‘s note] if Tbilisi went further in joining the economic sanctions against Moscow.
He also said Georgia was among the first nations to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as had signed some 260 resolutions declaring solidarity with Kyiv.
The PM further turned the criticism towards the UNM, claiming that while being in power they “have fled” the country during the Russian invasion in 2008 [another claim that is factually disputed – Civil.ge ], and later sold strategic facilities to Russian state-owned companies, are now the ones calling for sanctions against Russia.
He then accused the UNM for failing to institute sanctions after the 2008 War, noting that instead they established a visa-free regime for Russian citizens. “[Ex-President Mikheil] Saakashvili, this maniac, a clown of a man, was personally welcoming Russian tourists.”
Speaking of “de-oligarchization,” one of European Commission’s priorities for Georgia before it secures candidate status, the PM claimed any talk of de-oligarchization is “related more to Ukraine than to us, we do not have any such problems, we never did and never will.”
Here again, PM Garibashvili echoed his party colleagues in claiming that if there are oligarchs in Geortgia, they come from the opposition. He singled out Lelo party leader Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of TBC bank is “a clear example of a politician seeking to become an oligarch.”
The PM then accused UNM-era Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili, ex-President Saakashvili, and Saakashvili’s mother and uncle of being oligarchs.
Addressing UNM lawmakers, PM said: “Saakashvili and your party are the main problems of our country, while Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili is the biggest philanthropist Georgians could think of, the author of all of these achievements and the destroyer of the system of this manic regime.”
The PM added that had Ivanishvili not entered politics today, “you would have made another Mariupol here, sacrificed the country and the people, destroyed and sold Georgia.”
Questions from Deputies
Following his speech, lawmakers had the chance to ask the Prime Minister questions, with ruling party MPs expressing the satisfaction with the address, asking rather general questions and thanking him for an “interesting report.”
GD MP Mariam Lashkhi thanked the PM for “defending national interests” and acknowledged his “firm stance” and “patience.” MP Vladimer Chachibaia asked what the PM’s message and expectations would be at the upcoming NATO summit in Madrid.
Another GD MP Beka Davituliani asked the PM “when will parliament and the government be able to sit down together to work on the recommendations for Georgia to receive [EU] candidate status in Georgia?” MP Eka Sepashvili inquired about the government’s plan and expectations “in terms of maintaining the dynamics of economic growth.”
GD MP Rima Beradze was interested in planned reforms for lowering medicine prices, while Irakli Mezurnishvili was curious about alternative energy sources.
In the meantime, the opposition was critical of the Prime Minister with Levan Khabeishvili, UNM MP, stating that “today Garibashvili showed society he is not going to do anything.” “This was not the speech of a state-minded person in the Parliament… This man came here with a torrent of grudges.”
Lelo For Georgia MP, Ana Natsvlishvili, slammed the PM for not taking responsibility “for anything that is happening in this country.”
“It became clear to me today why you, personally, have such a panicked fear for Georgia not to become a part of the EU. Because, in an EU state, a ‘call him whatever you want’* person can never become a PM.”
“It was incredibly hard to restrain oneself emotionally when we heard this out-of-place, cheap, expired argument from you,” Strategy Aghmashenebli Leader, Giorgi Vashadze addressed the PM. “Where are the Georgian people, the national interests of Georgia? Where are our European aspirations in your speech?”
Alexander Elisashvili, Citizens’ Party MP, lambasted the PM for speaking with “hate” two days before a final decision is made on granting EU candidate status to Georgia.