GD Chair Kobakhidze: We can’t and we won’t impose sanctions on Russia. Our position is clear.

On March 10 Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze gave an extensive interview to the pro-government TV Channel Imedi. He spoke about Russia’s decision to abolish visa regime with Georgia, about “radical” opposition, the traditional values and other issues.

On Russia’s decision to abolish the visa regime with Georgia

Kobakhidze said that ruling party’s position is simple, there are approximately, 1 mln Georgians living in Russia, they have to arrive to Georgia through other countries. He said Russia “punished them in 2019 and today this punishment is lifted”. He stressed: “We could not have had any kind of position on that because it was a unilateral decision, then as well as now”.

He reiterated: “…We don’t impose sanctions on Russia, due to simple reason: because we would sanction our own country and people.” He added: “We have counted what it would have cost us: for example, we had 10% economic growth last year, we would have had 10% economic downfall, that’s what radical opposition wanted”.

On opponents’ criticism that this is a “prize” from Putin for GD’s anti-western course

If that’s a prize, then in 2019 [when the restrictions on air travel were imposed by Moscow] GD was punished, so where is the logic? The reality is that we conduct pragmatic policy hence, this decision was taken, which benefits our citizens. Our constitution obliges us to maintain links with our compatriots in Russia.

On whether this creates a problem in terms of Georgia’s positioning and Georgia’s image, as Georgia is perceived to be on Putin’s friends’ list

He said: “I remember, when Putin took out Georgia from enemy’s list, we heard the same criticism from radicals, in reality this was only the demonstration of the fact that our pragmatic policy brings results, the result being we don’t have the second front in Georgia ”.

He added: “As for EU integration, these speculations will continue, you will see that, the radical opposition will try to artificially use this topic for their campaign to prevent the receipt by Georgia of the candidate status”. He then compared Georgia to Moldova, saying that no EU or US politicians criticize Moldova for being a CIS member country and lamented that while those politicians understand Moldova’s concerns, they don’t want to understand similar concerns of Georgia.  

On President Zurabishvili’s call to convene the Security Council following yesterday’s Russia’s decision and her call on Georgia to impose visa restrictions for Russian citizens

Kobakhidze said that would be “a sort of a sanction”. He said the President “has been engaged in the campaign opposing the receipt of EU candidate’s status for our country”. He said recalled the President’s recent address in the Parliament where “she linked the issues of air travel, sanctions lift by Russia to the European integration” and by that, according to Kobakhidze “she again engaged in the campaign by radical opposition against the receipt of the [EU candidate] status”.

On the prognosis that private air companies, which will start operating in Georgia will breach the international sanctions regime, and whether he sees danger in that, more so since Georgia has been accused of helping avoid international sanctions against Russia

Kobakhidze said that the executive branch representatives have already addressed such “speculations” and every time they proved to be groundless.  But, he repeated “as for the imposition of sanctions against Russia, we can’t and won’t do that, on that our position is clear”.

On the draft law registered in the Parliament regarding the prohibition to sell private property to Russian citizens and on GD opponents’ outcry regarding the Russian investments and purchases of Georgian property by Russian citizens

GD Chair said that there have been three “groundless” xenophobic campaigns last year, “aimed at creating panic in the society: the first, at start of the war, when a number of Russians arrived, the second- as the of tourism season started last year, and the third, when mobilization was announced in Russia”. Kobakhidze said each time a fear was that Russians’ would outnumber Georgians in our own country, which was according to him, a “pure speculation”. He said “it had nothing to do with liberalism in its classic form, it was an ordinary liberal fascism”. He added: “They [the opposition] will try this again to create a panic, as the tourism season is approaching”. He further noted that the society sees everything, “that authorities control the situation, and there is no threat to our key interests, all is protected”. He added: “We won’t allow xenophobic campaign on ethnic grounds”.

On the Parliament’s Chair statements about the transparency of public financing and about the problem that some parties and the CSOs affiliated with them spend money in “inappropriate manner”, and what government intend to do about this

Kobakhidze said that Georgian legislation prohibits financing from abroad of political parties, “this has to do with sovereignty”, he said adding: “nobody can interfere in political democratic processes in the country”. He further noted: “However, there are precedents that foreign organizations fund political organizations in Georgia, this is a breach of legislation, this is punishable by law.” He then said that authorities can address the state audit service, but it is up to the service to make a decision. He added that it is  “concerning that these organizations receive funding from abroad”.

According to Kobakhidze the law says that even such “detour” funding of parties, is punishable. So there are levers to use to address this, according to GD Chair.

On the concrete example of Girchi-More Freedom trainings “where they teach the use of weapons” and what he thinks about such trainings

Kobakhidze said: “It’s interesting what aims it has, more so, since Girchi is a proponent of desertion from the army”. He added:” So these trainings are not for protection of the country”. He recalled the recent protest rallies and said it raises suspicions “why they train these people, especially since they are funded by foreign organizations”.

On call centers, and on creation of a commission, which Gakharia’s For Georgia party is asking for. On whether there will be decision different on the part of the authorities different from the commission on the judiciary

Kobakhidze stated that “the standard is that you don’t create a commission around the ongoing investigation cases noting “this might endanger” the investigation. He then criticized Gakharia party for stating that that authorities would have known about the call centers, as they could not have functioned without the authorities’ knowledge.  Kokbahidze said: “According to this logic, Gakharia should have known about them as well…because when the call center business started flourishing Gakharia was Minister of Internal Affairs and them Prime Minister”. He said: “Gakharia links to Kezerashvili are known, so he has received an order and now blames the authorities”.

On Ukrainian politician David Arakhamia’s statement that Georgian government will change in 2024 , that Ukraine will help Georgia on EU integration path, but for this Nika Gvaramia has to be freed

Kobakhidze said: “You know what the situation in Ukraine is, it is a complete disaster. And then there is this man who finds time for his business, I don’t even want to comment on that”. He added: “There is a constant insulting attitude from that side [Ukrainian officials], a lot of slander. We don’t want to get involved, we don’t need this polemic”.

He further said: “As for Arakhamia personally, he does not deserve a reaction to his statements”. He added that Ukrainians, by recalling their Ambassador “tried to create instability in Georgia”. He stressed: “Ukraine needs their Ambassador here more, than we do”.

On opposition saying they have to agree on certain configuration before elections and on possibility of creation of new parties before the 2024 elections, and what does this change for GD

“In the process of the rearrangement of summands, the sum does not change”- said Kobakhidze, adding that the “sum is in fact diminishing”. He noted that “some parts will maybe disappear whatsoever”. He added that the “radical opposition is being weakened” and this will mean good results for GD at the elections.

On the possibility of exclusion from PES after the PM address at CPAC in Bucharest last week

GD Chair stressed that “the conference in Budapest was held under the slogan “God, homeland, family”. He said “this was the conversation about all the human values”. He then expressed dismay that participation in such a conference under such a slogan raises protests. “This is incomprehensible to us”- he said adding: “This reminds us, unfortunately, that in various European political families the pseudo-liberal ideologies are strengthening, we disassociate ourselves from them”. He noted that GD said it would review cooperation with some of the European political families, adding :”let’s see , we will gather soon and make decisions”.

On whether, as per GD’s opponents, prior to 2024 elections GD will change its strategy, there won’t be UNM anymore as a scarecrow and GD will have a focus on traditional values

Kobakhidze said that one does not exclude the other. He said that “this pseudo-liberalism direction in Georgia dos not have anything in common with liberalism, human rights or democracy, the most intolerant people are supporters of this pseudo-liberalism”. He then emphasized: “The radical opposition is exactly pseudo-liberals and they are foreign agents”.

He also said: “You saw the exhibition in EU parliament, it is unacceptable, because there is freedom of religion, which means that the other’s religion feelings have to be respected. This was a stark breach of human rights” adding: “we don’t want to see this in Georgia”. He then said that UNM, and “the radical parties affiliated with it embody the breach of human rights, rapes, expropriation of businesses and TV stations… they embody this ideology which is unacceptable to majority of our society, more than 90% , and we are on the side of this majority”.

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


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