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The Daily Beat: 7 April

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili ended his working week by visiting Baku, where he met with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and discussed the prospects of flourishing bilateral relations and regional security challenges. Both leaders pledged to continue contributing to Europe’s energy security and stressed the importance of peace and stability in advancing energy and infrastructure projects. According to the government administration, leaders also focused on the Black Sea submarine electricity cable project bridging the Caucasus region with Europe. Since being at odds with the West, Garibashvili became a pretty frequent guest in Baku.

Before departing for Baku, Irakli Garibashvili met with the Hungarian minister of foreign affairs and trade, Péter Szijjártó, who is visiting Tbilisi. Deepening bilateral cooperation, Black Sea power cable, green energy projects, and Georgia’s EU progress topped the conversation agenda in Tbilisi. Prime Minister thanked Péter Szijjártó for backing Georgia’s European integration. He proudly noted that the report published by the European Commission reflected the progress made by Georgia in this regard. A separate meeting was held between Péter Szijjártó and his Georgian counterpart. Ilia Darchiashvili welcomed his Hungarian colleague to Tbilisi, describing him as Georgia’s “true friend.”

President Salome Zurabishvili held a briefing, responding to the imposition of sanctions on four influential judges by the US Department of State. She expressed regret that Georgia is included in the list of sanctioned countries, especially when it awaits “the most important decision” from its European partners on granting candidate status. “I am afraid that the US decision will be perceived as a negative signal in Europe,” Salome Zurabishvili said. At the briefing, the president stressed that she was “not happy” and “worried” following the State Department’s decision, saying that the country’s reputation is the most important. During today’s announcement, Zurabishvili also noted that she had shared her “feelings” with outgoing US Ambassador Kelly Degnan.

For three months, parliament has suspended the accreditation of three journalists and camera operators from three critical TV channels – Mtavari ArkhiFormula, and TV Pirveli. A letter sent to them by the Parliament’s office reads that they had violated the new accreditation rules, which state that a journalist must stop an interview if an MP, staff member, or guest objects. Journalists from TV Pirveli and Mtavari Arkhi had their accreditation suspended after they attempted to get Georgian Dream MP Eliso Bolkbadze to comment on the US sanctions against four Georgian judges. As for Formula TV, a journalist tried to get a comment from a lawmaker about Shalva Ramishvili, founder and presenter of pro-government PosTV, who has been accused of sexual harassment by several women.

High Council of Justice held a session to discuss the US sanctions against Georgian judges. At the beginning of the session, the Chairman of the High Council of Justice called for a calm and appropriate response to the allegations made against her colleagues by the US State Department’s Secretary. Nevertheless, one of the sanctioned judges, Levan Murusidze, claimed at the session that representatives of the US Embassy had been approaching him personally for years, conveying specific wishes, such as appointing certain judges to the High Council of Justice. “I have proof of this,” he said, adding that he would make it public if necessary. Murusidze believes that the sanctions are a tool of “moral terror” against his family and that the Georgian staff at the embassy, headed by Chkheidze, had been using this tool for years, using the $25 million budget to create “an unhealthy situation” and “confrontation in the court system.

Moscow-backed Abkhaz de-facto authorities temporarily closed the crossing point at the occupation line across the Enguri River “ahead of an opposition rally in Tbilisi on April 9”. Rustam Latipov, the de-facto head of the “border service of Abkhazia,” announced the move and stated that exceptions to the restrictions include employees of the Enguri HPP, people traveling to Georgia proper for treatment, and older people.


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