In Munich, PM Discusses Occupation, EU Integration, War in Ukraine, Saakashvili

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili took part in a panel discussion at the Munich Security Council on February 18, where he spoke about Russia’s occupation of Georgian territories, European integration, the war in Ukraine and the health of former President Mikheil Saakashvili.  

The Occupation  

PM Garibashvili said that since 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, Russia has been occupying 20% of Georgian territories. “We have been facing lots of problems and challenges… We had an indirect – let’s say so – war in the beginning of 90’s, when separatists from Abkhazia and South Ossetia were backed by the Russians,” the Prime Minister noted.  

He also said that after the 2008 August war, “a lot of people died and we lost control of our territories completely. Russia has military bases on our territory. It is ongoing. It does not stop.”  

“I also want to mention that since the 2008 war, we have not seen any sanctions imposed on Russia. On the contrary, we saw that business continued as usual. Therefore, it was a very –let’s say – bad signal,” PM Garibashvili stressed.  

Speaking about Russia’s occupation of Georgian territories, the Prime Minister noted that Georgia pursues a peace plan to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity. “After we came to power in 2012 we have made a lot of efforts to de-escalate the tension,” he said, expressing gratitude to the OSCE, the EU and the United States for their contribution to the mediation process. Garibashvili also noted that the Geneva International Discussions is the only platform that “we have right now with Russians.”  

In this context, the PM said that “what we have managed to achieve in the last decade is the only peaceful period – this 10-year period – when we have been in power and ensured peace and stability.” “Through war we cannot achieve prosperity, we cannot achieve stability,” he added.  

EU integration  

Speaking at the panel discussion, the Georgian Prime Minister also noted that “we have been very active on our European integration path.” In this context, he mentioned Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and visa free regime.   

He also stressed “the historic decision” made by the European Council to recognize the European perspective for Georgia.  

War in Ukraine  

PM Garibashvili called Russia’s war in Ukraine one of the big challenges, saying that “since WWII, I think, Europe and the world in general has not faced such a big challenge.” “We all see that Russia is focused on Ukraine. It is a devastating war and I have to say that we must do everything in order to stop this war,” Garibashvili said, adding that peace has no alternative.  

Speaking about the threats coming from Russia, PM Garibashvili noted that “everybody has the same position that we are not in a position now to say anything more precisely or concretely, on what will happen in Ukraine.”  

“Of course the consequences and results of this war will have an impact on countries like Georgia, you mentioned Moldova… Let’s be very frank – on the entire European security architecture, on the world, what Russia is trying to do now is that they are trying to change the international order – rules-based international order,” he said.  

The Prime Minister also noted that “it is hard to say what will happen.” “I think time will show us where we are now, where the world, the region and Europe will be after Ukraine… So, I think, what experts have been saying to us is that in 2-3 months we will have a clear picture of where we are.” 

“We have witnessed that the nuclear war rhetoric has come back, which is catastrophic for the entire world, not only for Ukraine and Europe, but for the entire world and entire planet,” the PM said, reiterating that “there is no alternative to the peaceful negotiations.” “So, therefore, we should expect that the United States, China, Russia, and the European Union will sit down and talk about the future of this planet.”  

Mikheil Saakashvili’s health  

Answering a question about ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian Prime Minister noted that “the Georgian government is providing him with maximum comfort and care in a private hospital, thus giving him all the privileges that other prisoners do not have”. He added that the idea of his return to Georgia in 2021 was “to make another revolution in Georgia, to organize mass killings and bloodshed. He failed and ended up in prison“.

PM Garibashvili told the participants that Saakashvili is “a good actor,” adding that his family paid USD 1 million “to launch an aggressive media campaign all around the world.” “So, what you hear and what you see on the videos or on Facebook or in social networks, does not actually describe the reality.”  

The Prime Minister stressed that the government offered Saakashvili’s family “to bring any doctors from any hospital, from any country to provide medical care, in case he needs medical support in Georgia.”  

“We are building a strong democracy in Georgia; we are strengthening democratic institutions. Saakashvili has committed serious crimes, such as the murders, the beating to death of a former member of parliament and many other cases – for example, the seizure of a private TV station, Imedi. And he has added another crime, which is crossing the state border illegally,” said Garibashvili.  

Opposition slams PM’s Munich remarks  

Irakli Nadiradze of the United National Movement said that PM Garibashvili’s remarks in Munich once again confirm that Georgian Dream no longer expresses public interests either inside or outside the country. “Instead of talking about Georgia’s security, building up its defense capabilities, integration into the European family and support for integration into Euro-Atlantic structures… the Prime Minister preferred to make shameful statements discrediting our country,” he said.  

“We have seen yet another shameful, tragic speech, when instead of taking a proper position on Ukraine, that Russia should be defeated and the whole world should contribute to this, we heard an unclear, uncertain, pseudo-peaceful rhetoric,” Grigol Gegelia of Lelo Georgia said.  

“Another disgrace on the international stage,” this is how Sergo Chikhladze of “Strategy Agmashenebeli” described Garibashvili’s remarks in Munich. “While the world leaders, the U.S. Vice President, European leaders are clearly supporting Ukraine and talking about Russia’s defeat, Mr. Garibashvili read out the text written in the Kremlin,” he said.  

Giga Bokeria of the European Georgia party said: “We have heard the messages of a Putin-like, bad commentator. We did not hear a single message about why Georgia is important for the West… Betrayal is nothing but not using such a rostrum for the interests of our country.”

“The panel discussion was about the Caucasus. He was asked to answer two questions and in response to them he talked pointlessly, and now they present it as an “address” or a “speech.”- said Zurab Japaridze, leader of Girchi – More Freedom. “In the current situation, no one is interested in the speech of Bidzina’s mouravi (bailiff),” he added.    

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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