As part of the 6th Tbilisi International Conference, President Salome Zurabishvili hosted a select group of participants at the Orbeliani Presidential Palace on 5 September, addressing them in a speech that emphasized the need to counter divisive disinformation against the U.S. and the EU.
“We have to know our friends, those that have supported our path from the very beginning, those that have helped us to create the reforms on which we are now continuing, and those that have helped us to develop the institutions that we are now basing ourselves on,” President Zurabishvili stated.
The President underscored that “Russia will try to counter this reality, that’s a very old phenomenon, a very Soviet phenomenon” which she pointed out is attempting to convince Georgians that Ukraine and Georgia are not friends, that the U.S. and EU are not supporters of peace and democracy in Georgia but rather trying to drag the country into war and open up a second front.
“… Creating distrust is one of the favorite ways in which Russia acts,” President Zurabishvili remarked and added that such actions are “very destructive” and it is up to Georgia to make it clear that such rhetoric towards allies is disinformation.
The President reiterated that it is “incredible” for anyone to claim that the U.S. is trying to drag Georgia into a war while Russia, who, has “taken shares and shares of our territory, and not only ours, but practically invaded all of its neighbors at different times, is the one that is supposedly not responsible for anything.” “This idea of a second front is one that should be radically countered,” she added.
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The President also highlighted the need to counter the false narrative that EU reforms “are not designed to help us develop and create a stronger Georgia… that [reforms] might be used to destabilize Georgia and its government.”
President Zurabishvili explained that such narratives are a clear representation of how Russia operates in ways beyond military aggression. On that note, she underscored the need to protect Georgia and its citizens from disinformation and to respect the country’s widespread aspirations for European integration.
In that context, she highlighted that “more and more people, especially youth” are leaving the country due to a perceived lack of perspective. “We have to refuel our youth with this European perspective, it’s one that is very clearly at hand and nobody should be pessimistic,” she said.
“The Georgian population has shown where it stands with Europe and Ukraine and we who are in charge of the country, whether majority or opposition, institutional leaders, are all responsible and we will all have to answer to the future generation about how we delivered at this very interesting time…,” she concluded.