On January 18, Irakli Kobakhidze, the Georgian Dream party chairperson, spoke about the difficulties Georgia is currently facing; attempts of establishing a “second front;” “radical opposition;” Georgia’s EU candidacy bid; and the imprisoned third president Mikheil Saakashvili with Imedi Live. Additionally, Kobakhidze responded to Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Federation’s foreign minister who has recently complimented the Georgian government.
War in Ukraine and “Second Front”
Irakli Kobakhidze named the ongoing war in Ukraine as one of the main challenges for the country this year and added that “we will have to walk very carefully” in 2023 as well. According to him, thanks to the caution of the Georgian society and a healthy assessment of the situation, it was possible to maintain peace in the country, but “risks still remain”.
In this context, the Georgian Dream chairperson once more discussed the “attempts” of opening a “second front” in Georgia by “serious forces,” or what he called the “global war party.” As yet another example of the aforementioned attempts, Kobakhidze referenced a CNN host named Christiane Amanpour who asked EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen about Georgia’s possible breach of sanctions against Russia.
“This is CNN and not TV Pirveli or Mtavari TV. When a falsehood of this magnitude is broadcast on CNN, it suggests that a significant force is interested in artificially creating problems for Georgia … eventual consequence should be [is aimed to be] the opening of a second front,” Kobakhidze said.
Domestic Political Stability
Irakli Kobakhidze emphasized the significance of the “radical opposition’s” weakening for the stability of internal politics, noting that this is the only option to lessen radicalism and keep the peace in the nation.
In this context, he drew attention to the ongoing processes in the United National Movement (UNM) party, saying that now they are stirring up radicalism within their own party. “This is a very important achievement… weakening of the radical opposition will be good both for the development of the democratic system and for the strengthening of the [non radical] opposition.”
In addition, Kobakhidze addressed the approaching UNM leadership election, saying that the outcome was unimportant because the process would weaken the UNM regardless of who won the election to lead the party. According to the GD chairman, the process will eventually result in the party splitting, which is crucial for weakening the radical opposition.
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EU Candidacy Bid
Irakli Kobakhidze voiced hope that Georgia would be granted EU candidate status this year in contrast to last year, saying that “a certain political context will favor us” in this regard.
Kobakhidze reiterated that Georgia is “far ahead” of Moldova and Ukraine. “Georgia was the only country that filled out the questionnaire by itself; in the cases of Ukraine and Moldova, others filled out the questionnaire; I will not disclose who it was,” he stated.
The Georgian Dream chairperson claims that the government is exerting every effort to obtain Georgia EU candidate status. “Regarding the 12 points [the EU recommendations], we meticulously followed each one and the relevant requirements were satisfied. Let’s hope that the decision, in this case, will be fair.”
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Responding to Lavrov
Irakli Kobakhidze responded to the Russian FM’s compliment for the Georgian government by saying that what matters for the ruling party is to uphold the national interests of Georgia, and not how it is evaluated by the North, West, South, or East.
Regarding Lavrov’s remarks on the potential resumption of direct flights with Georgia, the chairperson of Georgian Dream claimed that many Georgian citizens were negatively impacted by Russia’s unilateral suspension of direct flights in 2019. Kobakhidze said the restoration of flights is important for Georgian citizens and therefore, it would be a welcoming development.
At the end of the interview, Irakli Kobakhidze also spoke about the imprisoned ex-president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, saying that he “couldn’t face his imprisonment with dignity and is doing everything to get out [of the prison].”
Kobakhidze also stated that the demand for the release of Mikheil Saakashvili “is utterly political” and there is no need for it. He also accused Saakashvili’s lobbyists of giving him false hopes and emphasized that with such lies “they encourage self-harm [and] if they stop such encouragement, it will be better for Saakashvili himself.”