The Daily Beat: 23 February
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili arrived in Turkey, where Turkish President Recep Taip Erdoğan hosted him in Ankara, the government’s press office reported. PM Garibashvili expressed solidarity with earthquake-hit Turkey and personally delivered condolences to the Turkish President. President Erdogan thanked Garibashvili for the prompt humanitarian assistance provided at this challenging time, the government’s press release reads. The Georgian prime minister, accompanied by the Interior Minister and Chief of Security Service, also plans to visit the earthquake-affected city of Antakya in the Hatay Province, where up to 100 Georgian rescuers are participating in rescue efforts.
The EU is concerned by the proposed draft law on “foreign agents,” the EUHR Spokesperson, Peter Stano, said in a written statement to the Georgian outlet Netgazeti. “Creating and maintaining an enabling environment for civil society to operate, and ensuring media freedom, is at the core of democracy,” Stano added. He also stressed that a free and safe environment for civil society is critically important for the country’s EU integration and international human rights standing.
Transparency International is alarmed by the draft law on foreign agents and called to reject further adoption of the draft. The international watchdog warned that the proposed legislation would seriously impact the already shrinking space for civil society and independent media in the country, undermining Georgia’s future progress in fighting corruption. Labeling civil society and media organizations as “foreign agents” is also at odds with EU aspirations and mirrors the “oppressive” Russian legislation, Transparency International statement reads.
Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili took part in a special session of the United Nations General Assembly dedicated to the war anniversary in Ukraine. In his UNGA speech, Ilia Darchiashvili condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine, calling it a brazen attack on the international rules-based order shattering global peace and security architecture. He pledged Georgia’s support for the Ukrainian people and backed Volodymyr Zelensky’s peace initiative, underscoring the UN’s role in maintaining international peace and security.
On February 24, on the day of the war anniversary in Ukraine, opposition political parties – “Droa,” “Girchi – More Freedom,” “Agmashenebeli Strategy,” joined by the representatives of civil society, journalists, public figures, as well as student organizations plan a rally in support of the European choice and solidarity with Ukraine. Politicians and public figures claim that the government’s “reserved” foreign policy course towards Russia does not project the will of the people. According to some politicians, the war anniversary demonstration is also regarded as a launch of a national movement aimed at liberating Georgia from increasing Russian influence.
Quote of the Day
“I was an employee of a donor organization, not an NGO. Refer to my biography,” – the parliament speaker Shalva Papuashvili said in response to journalists’ question about whether he would register as an agent of foreign influence if he returned to work in the non-governmental sector. Shalva Papuashvili headed the Georgian team of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in 2017-2020.