PM: Georgia’s Future No Longer Belongs to Foreign Agents
“The future of our country does not belong and will no longer belong to foreign agents or servants of foreign countries. The future of our country and our people belongs to patriots,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who is visiting Germany to attend the ITB Berlin 2023 tourism fair, told reporters on March 7 while commenting on the Russian-inspired law on “foreign agents.”
Echoing Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the Georgian Dream party, PM Garibashvili also attacked civil society organizations, saying that “many of them are directly fighting against statehood and state interests.” “We know a lot of organizations that hold anti-government rallies with foreign funding, a lot of provocative events that do not serve the national interests of our country,” he said.
PM Garibashvili claimed that the funding of these CSOs “is not transparent.” “The campaign that is going on now is absolutely groundless. I understand that it is painful for them, because for years they have been receiving grants worth tens of millions of dollars, and they have had no transparency and accountability to the public, to our people,” the Prime Minister said, stressing that “a minimum standard of accountability and transparency is a necessary requirement, fully in line with European and world standards.”
Referring to the American law on foreign agents, PM Garibashvili said that “similar laws are in force in other countries. It is a sovereign decision of each country, which law it needs at this moment,” Garibashvili said, adding that the government “is doing its best to strengthen the sovereignty of our country. This is our main task – the independence of our country.”
He also noted that the ruling majority will send both drafts on “foreign agents” to the Venice Commission and continue discussions after receiving the Commission’s opinion.
“We are leading our country on the path of EU integration”
“We are leading our country on the path of EU integration,” PM Garibashvili told reporters. He noted that over the past 10 years, the Georgian Dream has brought the country “Association Agreement, free trade, a visa-free regime and now a European perspective”, which “confirmed that we will truly be a full member of the European family and now we are awaiting the status.”
“Our government is doing its best to get this status as soon as possible. Any speculation we hear from the opposition is unfounded. We understand that many people may find this issue unacceptable, but our goal as a government is to do what the people and our country need,” he said.
“Georgian opposition is absolutely degraded”
The Georgian Prime Minister went on to blame the opposition, saying: “Unfortunately, the Georgian opposition has been absolutely degraded and confidence in them has been lost.” Citing the results of recent public opinion polls, he said that the support for opposition parties has decreased while support for the ruling party has increased.
PM Garibashvili noted that “it is a tragedy” that representatives of the “destructive, radical opposition” remain in politics. “But I think our people see everything very well, people are wise,” he said, accusing the United National Movement of ceding 20% of Georgian territory to Russia.
“These people, when they were in power, destroyed our country, ceded 20% of our territories to the occupier, allowed the Russian army to enter the country and build military bases, and you probably remember how they transferred our strategic assets to Russian state companies after the war,” Garibashvili told reporters, adding that the opposition’s “hype is mere speculation.”
The Prime Minister said that the government will ensure freedom of expression for everyone, but illegal actions will not be tolerated.
“There would have been a second front in the country, if these destructive people had been in power”
Speaking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, PM Garibashvili reiterated that the war in Ukraine is not over. “20% is already occupied by Russia and hundreds of thousands of people have died. Ukraine has suffered USD 1 trillion worth of damage.”
He said that “there would have been a second front in the country, if these destructive people had been in power.” He further added: “We will not let that happen. We will have peace, stability and development in the country.”
“MEPs told us with their resolution on Saakashvili that he is their agent”
PM Garibashvili recalled the European Parliament’s “shameful resolution” on ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili saying that with this resolution, the “MEPs have told us that Mr. Saakashvili is their agent, their servant.”
He also said that the MEPs were not interested in the “grave crimes” committed by Mikheil Saakashvili and his “evil regime”, nor in “our sovereignty and independence.” “They told us that regardless of all this, they are not interested in our opinions, that this man was their agent and we should release him,” the Prime Minister noted.
Garibashvili also stressed that “the time when politicians and governments served the interests of foreign countries is over. We are serving the interests of Georgia. Everyone should remember this and not to try to interfere in our country’s affairs.”
“I want to tell it to those MEPs and some corrupt bureaucrats, who are lecturing the Georgian people. Georgian people know very well what their country needs today. The Georgian people no longer need violent dictators, violent Saakashvili and their criminal system. The Georgian people need peace, development, prosperity and territorial integrity,” he added.
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