Mothballed alliance of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova (GUAM) seems to get a new lease of life as embattled Ukraine assumes ledership in 2023. Apart from the obvious – territorial integrity -Ukraine’s FM Kuleba listed East-West transportation and trade priorities.
Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s imprisoned ex-president turned 55 years old today. His apparently grave health condition is quickly becoming an international political liability:
Relations between Kyiv and Tbilisi remain tense. The Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson scolded the Georgian authorities for instrumentalizing the war for domestic political purposes. This comes after the majority party officials lashed out at the Ukrainian leader’s calls to release imprisoned Saakashvili.
Don’t miss a beat!
Ned Price, US State Department spokesperson, reminded the Georgian of its responsibility for Saakashvili, who is in the state custody. Price urged the Georgian authorities to treat the ex-President fairly and with dignity, assure his proper medical and psychological treatment.
President of Moldova, Maia Sandu joined her Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky to appeal for Mikheil Saakashvili’s transfer to a foreign hospital.
A man detained by occupation forces in Tskhinvali region few days ago was released and is back in Tbilisi-controlled territory. Such detentions remain commonplace, but are often resolved with EU monitoring mission mediation.
Drug smugglers and dealers were targeted by the police across the country: 62 people, including foreign nationals, were arrested. Some might face 20 years or life behind bars, the Police said. Police said that fight against drug-related crime remains a high priority.
The National Bank of Georgia has kept the key refinancing rate at 11%, quoting turbulent geopolitical context, uncertainty, and inflation risks. The central bank also acknowledged that recent growth was buoyed by Russian migration flows into Georgia.
[European] Georgia on their mind
Régis Genté veteran Tbilisi-based journalist and analyst penned a policy brief for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a Brussels think tank. He says Bidzina Ivanishvili, through his control of the Georgian Dream party and the government, Ivanishvili may be attempting to maneuver Georgia into Russia’s sphere of influence. Nonetheless, argues Genté, it is still possible for the EU to work with Georgia, but only if it conditions assistance.
Natalie Sabanadze, Georgia’s respected former ambassador in Brussels, wrote for the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP), on a similar topic. She says, state capture by the oligarch is gradual and difficult to put a finger on, so the EU must sharpen its sensors, and be more specific in communicating expectations towards Georgia and in formulating conditionality.