On March 24, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili was questioned in the Parliament under the interpellation procedure. Rather than directly answer the questions by opposition MPs, the PM once again spoke about the ongoing war in Ukraine and the efforts to open a “second front” in Georgia in this context, accusing the “destructive” opposition of trying to “overthrow” the government and organize a “revolution” in the country. Garibashvili also referred to Georgia’s prospects of being granted the EU candidate status and emphasized that “if Europe and European colleagues really want to end the polarization [in Georgia], they should [grant us] the status of a candidate.”
The war in Ukraine and attempts to open a “second front”
During the speech, PM Garibashvili discussed the full-scale war launched by Russia in Ukraine, emphasizing the potential dangers of a third world war. He stated that “this is not an exaggerated threat” because “we understand that the rhetoric of nuclear war is increasing day by day.” Furthermore, he also spoke again of efforts to open a “second front” in Georgia and cited the statements of high officials of the Ukrainian authorities as evidence.
“… 20% of our country is occupied and the troops of the occupying country are stationed on the historical lands of our country. The real danger facing our country today is the precise plan, the conspiracy that exists against our country, this is the so-called Ukrainization plan, the plan to open the so-called “second shooting range” and the “opening of the second front”, said PM Garibashvili.”Georgian Dream” government is not a “war-minded government”, “they [the Ukrainian authorities] wanted [Mikheil] Saakashvili to be in power, who would start a war against Russia and join Ukraine, involving Georgia in the war,” added Irakli Garibashvili.
- 11/02/2023 – PM Speaks of Attempts ‘to Open Second Front’, Slams UNM
- 19/01/2023 – GD Chair Kobakhidze Talks “Second Front,” “Radical Opposition,” Lavrov’s Remarks
“I would like to remind everyone that today our country is neither a member of the European Union nor a member of NATO, we do not have any security guarantees,” said the Prime Minister, adding that “unfortunately”, Georgia’s involvement in the war “is the declared goal of the Ukrainian authorities. It is in direct correlation and coordination, it is in harmony with the goals of the “fifth column” [opposition], their intentions, their plans, their actions.”
According to the Prime Minister, the return of former President Mikheil Saakashvili to Georgia served this purpose. “According to his [Mikheil Saakashvili’s] naïve calculations, there should have been a revolution, bloodshed, the overthrow of the government by violent means, disruption of the elections.”
“If we connect this with the declared goal of the Ukrainian government, their actions, that their task was to open a second front in Georgia, I think no reasonable person will have any doubt and no question will remain that simply that yes, the goal of Saakashvili’s entry was to prepare the ground and the background, that Irakli Gharibashvili said that the war would start in Georgia as well, and noted that they “failed in this plan, the internal and external enemies of our country lost”.
“If we connect this with the declared goal of the Ukrainian government to their actions, that their task was to open a second front in Georgia, I think no reasonable person will have any doubt and no question will remain, that simply yes, the goal of Saakashvili’s entry was to prepare the ground… to start a war in Georgia as well” – declared Garibashvili noting that they “failed in this plan, the internal and external enemies of our country lost.”
According to Irakli Garibashvili, the pro-Western rallies held in the summer of 2022 and the refusal to grant Georgia candidate status were part of an attempt to open a ‘second front’ in Georgia. “This plan by our internal and external enemies also failed,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the latest attempt to start a war in Georgia was the March 7-9 rallies against the Russian-style “foreign agents” laws supported by the ruling majority.
“The so-called “fifth column” and the extremist, radical, anarchist forces managed by them, youth organizations controlled by them, the anarchist movements of “National Movement”, “Girchi – More Freedom”, the so-called Franklin Club – were all directly involved in the organization of violent rallies” – noted the PM adding: “When violent groups attacked the police, threw Molotov cocktails, stones, etc. we heard calls directly from some members of the European Parliament that now is the time to overthrow this regime, to change it.” “This plan has failed and the enemies of our country have lost again”- he added.
The PM noted that it was an “unfair decision” to deny Georgia candidate status, unlike Ukraine and Moldova, and reiterated that Georgia is far ahead of both countries in all directions. According to him, the current government “has done everything” to fulfill the 12 priorities set by the European Commission as a prerequisite for receiving candidate status. He also noted the passivity of opposition in this process.
- 17/06/2022 – European Commission’s Memo Detailing Recommendations for Georgia
- 17/06/2022 – Conditions First, Candidate Status After – EU Commission Recommends on Georgia
Garibashvili also referred to the EC’s top priority of de-polarization saying that polarization characterizes any democracy and “our country is not and cannot be an exception”. He also noted that the denial of candidate status to Georgia contributed to the further deepening of polarization in the country.
“If Europe and our MEPs and European colleagues really want to end polarization, they should grant candidate status to Georgia. This will remove all questions, all speculations, will end their destructive and radical actions, and our extremist opposition will have no real reason to accuse our government,” said the Prime Minister.
He also emphasized the role of the opposition in ending polarization, saying that “this obligation is to be fulfilled jointly by the government, the authorities, the parliament, and the opposition.”
Prime Minister Garibashvili then noted the “historic” decision of the European Union to grant Georgia a European perspective stressing that “all speculation and assumptions about where Georgia stands have been removed.”
“Europe has loudly said that Georgia’s place is in Europe and that the country will become a member of the European Union. On this path, the next stage, of course, is the candidate status, which is only a symbolic decision, but it is certainly an important decision.”
The “shameful resolution” of the European Parliament
The Prime Minister once again called the European Parliament’s resolution on the imprisoned ex-president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, “shameful” and said that with this they “almost equated Saakashvili with our country, Georgia – that is, they directly said that we are not interested in your people…”, “Saakashvili is a declared, proven criminal, who is currently serving his sentence in a private clinic. Nevertheless, they told us that they are not interested in all this, we know that Saakashvili is a criminal, but he is our criminal”, Garibashvili said.
According to the Prime Minister, the MEPs said the same in relation to the former Defense Minister and one of the founders of the “Formula” TV channel, Davit Kezerashvili, and the director of the “Mtavari Arkhi” – Nika Gvaramia. “For us, this is categorically unacceptable. For us as a sovereign, independent state. This is an insult to our people and our country, to the history of our country, to our centuries-old culture, [and] civilization,” he emphasized.
Draft laws on “agents” and the rallies of March 7-9
In his speech, Prime Minister Garibashvili also commented on the Russian-style bills on “foreign agents” initiated by the ruling majority, which the government withdrew after mass protests. “We all saw clearly that a few days after the law was withdrawn, the European Parliament started actively talking about initiating a similar law, a law that would among other things, regulate the activities of non-governmental organizations and lobbyists for the European Union… We saw that very soon after the law was withdrawn, a few days later, Canada started the same process,” he said.
According to Garibashvili, despite the ruling party’s promise that the draft law would be amended in accordance with the Venice Commission’s comments, “we have seen a direct attempt at destabilization which, of course, is again related to the tasks and goals of our destructive, extremist forces.” He also called the March 7-9 protests against the draft laws “absolutely unacceptable” and thanked the police for their service these days. “The government has shown a lot of firmness, strength, and wisdom,” he stressed.
The Prime Minister’s speech was strongly criticized by the opposition MPs:
“Your rhetoric is always characterized by personal insults, you choose the tone of insults and hatred at every stage, this is very sad and really does not suit the Prime Minister of my country, no matter which political party he represents”, – United National Movement MP Tina Bokuchava addressed Irakli Garibashvili. She also added that the European future of the country is protected not by the government, but by those young people who are constantly insulted by the ruling team. “”…either you are with Russia or you are with the West, either you are with your enemy or you are with your friend, either you are with Ukraine or you are with Putin, and unfortunately the “Russian dream” under the name of “Georgian dream” made a choice a long time ago, but today this choice has become clearest,” the MP said.
“During these 40 minutes, you did not once mention the Russian Federation in the context of a belligerent aggressor country. “Great challenge”, “combat actions”, “number one nuclear state” [you should mention] – the enemy, Mr. Irakli, the enemy! The enemy is the Russian Federation, but you fulfilled your function fantastically, painting a picture of war for the Georgian society, inciting the fears of the Georgian society.”- Beka Liluashvili, MP of the former Prime Minister – Giorgi Gakharia’s party “For Georgia”, told Irakli Garibashvili.
“You are guilty, Mr. Prime Minister. You are guilty of calling the young people, who saved this country at the cost of their lives and health, Satanists… because there would be no question of the candidate status had you fulfilled the Russian task to adopt the Russian law. You are guilty before Ukraine because you would not have dared to stand here and speak, if they had not fought heroically in Ukraine today, including for the European future of this country too”, said Salome Samadashvili, MP of “Lelo Georgia” to the Prime Minister, adding: “Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea culpa, which means “I am guilty” in Latin. You should apologize to your family and to your children because you and all of you have to live with the shame of going against the interests of this country.”
“It was very difficult to listen to the speech of the person called the Prime Minister… we have been hearing the same thing since 2014, the only news was that the insults of Western partners and Ukraine were added to the insult campaign towards the opposition… I wouldn’t have a problem with this if I didn’t see serious signs of a hybrid war in all of this”, – the MP of “Strategy Agmashenebeli”, Paata Manjgaladze, addressed Irakli Garibashvili and asked him why he “intimidates” people and why he talks to them about “non-existent threats”.
“You announced to us today that a national security policy is being informally planned, you told us directly that we will not have a national security policy written until the war in Ukraine is over,” said Teona Akubardia, representative of the “Reform Group” adding: “Today I wanted to hear from you, how you defend the sovereignty of the country that is under Russian occupation, under continuous annexation, and what you would say to our citizens in this situation.”
“Unlike the Parliament of Georgia, the European Parliament is not polarized, so when you insult one MEP, you insult the whole European Parliament. Please pay attention to this,” Ketevan Turazashvili, MP of the political group “Citizens”, appealed to the Prime Minister.
The “Georgian Dream” MPs, on the other hand, thanked Prime Minister Garibashvili for his “extraordinary speech”:
“Today, once again, the Prime Minister won the debate 10:0 against the representatives of the radical opposition and once again exposed their true face, a weak and also, I will say it directly in a manner that may be a bit rude, unintelligent face,” said Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the “Georgian Dream” party, adding: “All this shows what is happening on the side of the radical opposition and what is happening on the side of the majority, on the side of the Prime Minister, where Europe is, and Europe is not, where education is, where there education is not… I think that all this is very clear to the public and was once again shown today during the debate”.
“Today, the national interest is peace, development, telling our Ossetian and Abkhazian sisters and brothers that we will win this common war with peace, we will win with development, everyone of our young people should know this and we will enter Europe with dignity… Attempting to flip the country has no perspective. Thinking about tomorrow, fighting with dignity for the country’s European future and Europeanness has a perspective and a future, this is the most important thing, and we should all know it. Anything else is sabotage of the country, and we will become members of the European family with dignity”, said Mamuka Mdinaradze, chairman of the “Georgian Dream.”
- 13/03/2023 – PM Garibashvili Links Tbilisi Protests to “Destructive, Anarchist” Forces
- 08/03/2023 – GD Kobakhidze Speaks “Spies Revolution,” Thanks Police
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