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The Daily Beat: 15 March

Following the last week’s protests in Tbilisi, European Parliament held debates on Georgia, heavily criticizing the Georgian Dream government and expressing solidarity to the pro-European aspirations of the Georgian people. All masks are finally off. The government of Georgia is determined to sabotage the country’s European path. Thankfully the people of Georgia are not taking it,” MEP Viola Von Cramon stated bluntly in her speech. Another MEP, Reinhardt Büdikofer, said that the ruling Georgian Dream party has turned into a Georgian nightmare as the government in Tbilisi pays lip service at best to European values and the European path.

Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili visited Sweden, where he met high-level officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tobias Billström, the Speaker of the Parliament, Andreas Norlen, the State Secretary for European Union Affairs, Christian Danielsson, and the State Secretary for International Development Cooperation, Diana Janse – formerly Sweden’s ambassador to Georgia. The sides reportedly discussed bilateral cooperation, the security situation in the region, and Georgia’s EU integration process. FM Darchiashvili apparently updated Swedish colleagues on implementing 12 EU conditions for candidacy. The foreign ministry is confident that Sweden supports Georgia’s progress on the Euro-integration path and its reform agenda.

Defense Minister, Juansher Burchuladzetook part in the 10th meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine, held virtually by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. The Commander of the Defense Forces, Maj.-Gen. Giorgi Matiashvili, also attended the meeting. The Ramstein format brings together defense ministers and high-ranking military personnel from around 50 countries to discuss the ongoing situation and the need for coordinated military assistance to Ukraine.

The University of Georgia and Free University decried accusations by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and “Georgian Dream” chairman Irakli Kobakhidze that students were used to carrying out violent actions against the state during rallies against draft laws on “foreign agents.” The universities called the statements by the majority of MPs “insulting,” “not serious,” and “immoral.” They also filed a lawsuit against Garibashvili and Kobakhidze for defamation, misinformation, and damage to the university’s reputation. UoG also says the repeated claim of PM Garibashvili and Chairman Kobakhdize that President Mikheil Saakashvili’s mother got the building “for one dollar” is patently untrue, and 4 million USD were paid by private owners to privatize the state owned property.

EU held its regional Ambassadorial in Tbilisi, a diplomatic gathering attended by the Heads of the EU Delegations in the Eastern Partnership countries, Central Asia, Ukraine, and Turkey, as well as senior officials from the EU External Action Service and the European Commission, EU officials from Moscow, Ankara, OSCE, and others. Regional EU Ambassadorial in Tbilisi focused on discussing EU policy towards the region’s countries, accession of some countries to the EU, communications, connectivity, bridging across the Caspian Sea, and other topics, Michael Siebert from European External Action Service said.

Book of the Day

Some MPs were shocked to discover a volume by an unknown Georgian author, apparently distributed by the parliamentary staff and containing a collection of the vilest of conspiracy theories, including the infamous staple – the Chronicles of the Elders of Zion. The news was so ridiculous, even by Georgian standards, that many responsible media, including this newspaper, refrained from running it … before the Parliament administration confirmed this was indeed the case.

“I dedicate this book to Georgia – cheated, sold, robbed and doomed, so that its offspring will understand that following the path of neoliberalism is the suicide of a nation, after which even our footprints will not remain,” the author of the volume distributed across the parliament writes. The Parliament staff argued it simply distributed the mail destined to MPs. Opposition is unconvinced, since private postings are not usually chain-circulated in the chamber. Their incredulity is perhaps related to the majority chair speaking about “liberal fascism” recently, while PM spoke about youths in “satanist uniforms” during the protest rallies.


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