- On Saturday, the Prime Ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Romania, and Hungary inked an agreement with the EU to build a power line under the Black Sea. The EC President Ursula von der Leyen was present personally, signaling the importance of diversifying EU power sources. In the meantime, the offshore wind station to allegedly feed the green energy into this cable is yet to be built in Azerbaijan. Earlier in December, the EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said that the EU would allocate EUR 2.3 billion for the power cable. Varhelyi’s home country, Hungary is said to be lobbying for the project, wishing to reduce its vital dependency on Russian energy.
- The Speaker of the Parliament asked the President to convene a special parliamentary session before Christmas. Key vacancies of the Public Defender (an official human rights watchdog) and Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission are yet to be filled. Yet, the majority and opposition parties said there is no consensus in sight for the Public Defender. If no candidate is approved, the elections – one of the EU’s key requirements for the candidacy – will have to wait till the spring session.
- A Georgian citizen was taken by the Russian occupation forces near Perevi village, in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, the Georgian Security Service said. The European Union Monitoring Mission was duly informed.
- President Salome Zurabishvili hosted the annual New Year reception for the diplomatic corps. The President called on Europe to have Georgian people in mind and spoke of the occupation, massive Russian migration, and polarization. Zurabishvili did not shy away from noting that Georgia got the European perspective thanks to the Ukrainian struggle against the Russian onslaught. She also lashed “some groups [who] may feel it is safer to criticize our Western partners than our occupiers.”
- Georgia’s foreign trade rose 32.2% amounting to USD 17.02 billion compared to the previous year according to the National Statistics Office (Geostat). Both exports (31.8%) and imports (32.4%) grew. Turkey is now topping the list of Georgia’s largest trading partners. It is followed by Russia, China, and the United States. These mounting macroeconomic numbers are underpinned by 9.8% GDP growth in the third quarter.
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- The recently established ultra-right, pro-Russian organization “Georgia Comes First” is sourcing its content from a Russian group sanctioned by the US for media interference, Strategic Culture Foundation – this was established by MDF, a disinformation watchdog. “Georgia Comes First” emerged in November 2022 and is fronted by “Georgian Dream” media propagandists – Goga Khaindrava and Gia Gachechiladze, as well as the recently formed anti-Western “People’s Power” faction in the Parliament.