Politicians React to President’s Annual Parliamentary Address

On March 31, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili presented her annual report to the Parliament, in which she strongly criticized the ruling party. The President’s speech drew mixed reactions from Georgian Dream and opposition MPs.

Below is a compilation of the remarks made by the ruling party and the opposition:

Ruling party reacts

Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling party, reminded the public that Salome Zurabishvili was elected President “with Bidzina Ivanishvili’s posters.” “We have detailed information about why she changed her colors, but we will not go into details, because Salome Zurabishvili has not crossed the red lines yet,” he stressed.

Kobakhidze also noted that “we heard a lot of unclear statements from the President today, which was expected.” “When the President says that Georgia did not deserve candidate status last year, when the European Union admitted that its rejection was unfair, all this is alarming.”

He also slammed the President for calling attempts to open a “second front” a conspiracy, reminding Zurabishvili of her statements on the start of the war in August 2008. “She should better recollect her statements and only then talk about conspiracies related to the second front,” Kobakhidze noted.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, chairman of the Georgian Dream faction, accused President Zurabishvili of making an “extremely biased” speech. “You said in 2018 that Saakashvili shelled sleeping Tskhinvali and that he started the war,” Mdinaradze addressed the President, asking if her position on the August war remained unchanged.

“Today, you have deepened the polarization, you have launched a new wave of polarization,” Mdinaradze told Zurabishvili, asking her why her statements echoed those of “the radical opposition.” The most unfortunate thing is that your current positions absolutely contradict the positions of the people who voted for you and are in line with the positions of those who called you a traitor and an agent a few years ago,” Mdinaradze said.

He also reminded the President that “no to violence” and “no to the National Movement” is what public demands. “With your narratives today, you have strengthened the National Movement’s false campaign, its goals against this country… unfortunately, you have failed to fulfill the aspiration of the Georgian people; excuse me, but you are not impartial; strengthening the National Movement’s narrative is not impartiality,” Mdinaradze stressed.

Opposition reacts

“The President of Georgia has made good, objective assessments of the current situation in the country. We will also accept the President’s criticism of the opposition. But the government’s policy is the main problem in the country, because the government is responsible for the development and political processes in the country,” MP Levan Bezhashvili of the United National Movement said.

MP Davit Usupashvili of the Lelo for Georgia party said that “this podium has seen different kinds of speeches, but today we heard the speech of an angry head of state…angry because Georgia had a unique opportunity to take a big step towards strengthening its independence and instead found itself in a misunderstanding,” Usupashvili said, adding that “if you had been angry a few years ago, we might have been much further ahead; but no matter, we still have enough time.”

MP Khatuna Samnidze of the Republican Party noted that “the President was the only high-ranking official, who protected us and the choice of each and every Georgian citizen that the future of this country is in Europe and that our society will confront any government that opposes this choice.”

“I think, everyone in the opposition agrees with the pathos of the President’s statement today… The President’s concern that we are deviating from our Western course and bypassing the choice of the Georgian people is correct and generally, this criticism is correct,” MP Iago Khvichia of the Girchi party said, urging the President to take action. In this context, he also mentioned the President’s discretionary right to pardon, stressing that “there are a lot of illegal prisoners in the country.”

“I did not want you to become the President of Georgia and I criticized you very strongly… nothing personal… simply, I was afraid that you would not be firm and consistent in protecting Georgia’s national choice, the Euro-Atlantic choice,” MP Aleko Elisashvili of the Citizens party addressed the President, adding that he took his words back.  

MP Pridon Injia of European Socialists was the only opposition lawmaker who remained dissatisfied with the President’s speech. Injia was one of the supporters of the Russian- inspired bill on foreign agents.

“Your recent statements are aimed at deepening polarization and the same can be said about your speech today… You have one year left as the President of Georgia and I ask you to make the statements that will be a step forward in terms of Georgia’s interests. If you do that, you will be laying a small brick for the building and prosperity of the country,” he told President Zurabishvili.

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


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