President Zurabishvili Interview by CNN

President Salome Zurabishvili, who was visiting the United States to attend the event at the United Nations was interviewed by CNN.

Asked about the ongoing protest and why would a country with European aspirations want to take the route towards authoritarianism, Zurabishvili noted that “it is clear that population does not want to take that road.” She stressed that the choice of Georgians throughout their history, has been Europe, and it was defined by shared values.

Zurabishvili said: “Clearly, this draft law goes against all the principles that European Union stands for, and that happens at a time when we are waiting for the decision on the candidate status, which was refused to Georgia a few months ago when it was given to Moldova and Ukraine.”

She went on to say Georgian society “knows we are at a very important juncture for its future; they know now the future of their children is being determined by what we are going to do in the coming weeks and months, and they are saying very clearly that what they want is to be in Europe.”

Asked about the President’s intention to veto the bill and the Prime Minister who supports it, President said that the executive and the ruling party MPs, just like herself, were elected on a platform of taking Georgia to the EU. Zurabishvili said she remains true to her promise, and “even if the ruling party does not feel that it is answerable to its population, that’s their problem.” She added the only reason why she decided to run for President was to help bring Georgia closer to and eventually into the EU.

She emphasized that this is a historic chance for Georgia, and one that may not present itself again. Zurabishvili noted that objections, and ambivalence about whether Georgia was in Europe or not “have been put aside, so we have a huge chance with Ukraine and Moldova, to join the EU and be in the place where finally Georgia can rest” after many centuries or tumultuous history.

Asked about her statement in which she called the draft law a “directive from Moscow”, and whether it meant she implied Kremlin is behind this, the President said her statement meant “there was no other explanation.”

She insisted there was no need for this law, and “nobody asked for it.” She went on to say that it “looks very much like Russian politics” – the law, but also the events accompanying its adoption “when free expression of the will of the people” who “are coming to the Parliament peacefully” is met by repression.

She appealed to the ruling GD government, saying “they have a last chance to close the gap with our population that has been widening” and to demonstrate they are not a covertly pro-Russian force. She called on the government to refrain from any use of force. The President said the people have a right to express that they want Europe and that she will support them by talking to foreign leaders and media.

Asked whether she thinks Putin is eyeing Georgia as the next target, Zurabishvili said that Georgia has been a target of Russian aggression several times throughout its history, including in 1921 when, in 1991-93, and again in 2008. She noted that Russia’s aggression against Georgia is ongoing, noting that maybe these events are “another way, indirect way to have a try to gain a foothold in Georgia”.

She spoke of the importance of Georgia as a Black Sea littoral country, noting that an extension of the EU in the region is essential in terms of “balance” in the South Caucasus and Europe. She noted that Russia will not let go of the region easily but noted that Moscow is losing in Ukraine. The President said: “The fundamental point of the war in Ukraine and how it will end is to stop Russia from being that occupying power that it has been for the last century and a half.”

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


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