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The Daily Beat: 24 February – Slava Ukraini!

President Salome Zurabishvili hosted foreign diplomats at an event marking the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. President delivered a speech reiterating support and solidarity with Ukraine. In her remarks, Salome Zurabishvili also slammed the Georgian government for its “pseudo-neutral and balanced” position, saying it had “isolated itself” from the democratic community. Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili from the ruling Georgian Dream party also attended the event. On the eve of the war anniversary, the presidential palace was lightened in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Despite the invitation, the official Georgian delegation did not travel to Kyiv to attend the war anniversary events due to mounting disagreements over Saakashvili and Georgia’s “reserved” foreign & security policy stance towards both Russia and Ukraine. Nevertheless, politicians from the ruling party have reacted to the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine by expressing solidarity with the friendly country.  Some opposition politicians, including the leaders of the United National Movement, Lelo, and Droa, arrived in Ukraine to express solidarity.

Many thousands gathered on Tbilisi’s central Rustaveli avenue in front of the parliament building to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine and mark the day Russia launched its full-scale onslaught one year ago. The opposition political parties organized the rally – “Droa,” “GirchiMore Freedom,” and “Agmashenebeli Strategy,” joined by students, journalists, public figures, and Ukrainian refugees. The event came as the ruling party has increasingly embarked on the path of anti-Western propaganda, including restrictions on the freedom of association, leading to Western criticism.

In a conversation with journalists, the US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, acknowledged the surge of an anti-western campaign in the country and said it contradicts the people’s choice. “It’s clear that there is a campaign underway in Georgia for the last six to eight months trying to undermine a strong partnership between Georgia and the West, between Georgia and the United States, Georgia, and the European Union,” Kelly Degnan said. Echoing his US counterpart, EU Ambassador Pawel Herczynski noted that Europe is waiting for Georgia, which is at crossroads, and it is up to the Georgian people to decide what future they want for their country.

To conclude the day of clear international messages, the Spokesperson of the EU High Representative published a statement in the evening, saying the draft law “On Transparency of Foreign Funding” would be “inconsistent” with Georgia’s membership aspirations, and is contrary to EU norms and values.

President Salome Zurabishvili vetoed amendments to the law on the national bank, saying they may undermine the Bank’s independence. As adopted by the Parliament, the draft would have increased the number of executive board members and set the rules for appointing ad interim National Bank president if the position is vacant. President Zurabishvili believes such amendments “are neither necessary, urgent nor well-founded.” The central bank recently warned against the amendments, arguing they might diminish its independence and credibility.  


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