PM Garibashvili Speaks to Media on EU status, Zurabishvili Impeachment and Other Issues

Speaking to the media in Kakheti today, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili commented on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s recent comment on the restoration of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia, Georgia’s bid for EU candidate status, the impeachment of President Zurabishvili, relations with the US and other issues.

Direct Flights and Visa-free Regime with Russia

According to FM Sergey Lavrov Russia “agreed with Mr. Garibashvili’s government to resume flights and abolish the visa regime”.

Asked to comment on this statement, Garibashvili said: “Russian President said that introducing visa-free regime and resuming flights were his unilateral decisions,” adding that “of course agreement was made with the Georgian government. Specifically, the Aviation Agency of the Ministry of Economy gave permission to relevant institutions and Russian companies…it was not done covertly.”

Garibashvili reiterated his approval of Russia’s decision regarding flights and visa-free regime, calling it “good” for the people of Georgia.

When asked whether US-sanctioned former Prosecutor-General of Georgia and alleged FSB collaborator, Otar Partskhaladze was involved in the negotiations with Russia on the resumption of flights, Garibashvili said “there have not been any kind of formal negotiations, let alone, on behalf of the government. This was the decision of the Russian government, which was then approved and endorsed by our government..”

Garibashvili also noted that he was “surprised” at the US decision to sanction Partskhaladze, saying “no US agency has ever addressed us regarding Partskhaladze.” He added: “We also know that Partskhaladze is not an oligarch and has no influence on society. I think there is nothing to hide. What kind of oligarch is Partskhaladze?! The man has been out of the government for 10 years, doing business. It’s his choice why he took the [Russian] passport.”

“I and the state are not aware of any fact that Partskhaladze has done anything to the detriment of the interests of our country and to the benefit of the interests of other countries. ” Partskhaladze is a businessman,”- said Garibashvili.

EU Candidacy

PM Garibashvili also discussed Georgia’s EU candidacy bid, saying the country deserves the candidate status based on “the reforms carried out, the progress achieved and this difficult geopolitical situation.” The PM further argued that if the EU does not grant Georgia the candidate status, it will be “another strategic mistake and unfair treatment of our people and country.” Garibashvili believes Georgia is ahead of both Ukraine and Moldova in all dimensions. He also said that Georgia “will not put up with it” if it is denied the status.

Zurabishvili’s Impeachment

According to Garibashvili, initiating impeachment against the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, has nothing to do with Georgia’s EU candidacy. He also added Zurabishvili failed to convince even the President of her “first or second homeland” France, that [bringing up] Georgia’s geography is absolutely irrelevant [when it comes to the country’s pursuit of the European future.] Moreover, said Garibashvili, the French President was the only one who raised questions about Georgia’s geographical location.

Meetings in the USA

Evaluating his recent official visit to the US, Garibashvili called the meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan “very interesting” and expressed gratitude towards him. According to Garibashvili, Georgia is looking forward to welcoming the new US Ambassador “with great optimism.” He added that the US is “the number one strategic partner for us,” adding that there naturally can be different ideas between the countries, but “what matters is the dialogue to be healthy,” PM noted.

Lazare Grigoriadis Case

PM Garibashvili also responded to Zurab Girchi Japaridze, leader of Girchi-More Freedom opposition party, who commented on Lazare Grigoriadis case yesterday, saying “the system singled out one person and punished him in order to make people, especially young people, afraid of taking to the streets.”

Garibashvili once again accused Grigoriadis of “trying to burn a police officer alive,” adding “we will be merciless and uncompromising towards everyone. Be it one or a thousand, all will go to jail.”

Lazare Grigoriadis was arrested on March 29, following the March 7-9 mass protests in Tbilisi against the Foreign Agents’ Law. He was arrested for allegedly throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police. On 31 March, the court sentenced Lazare Grigoriadis to preventive detention. On September 25, the Tbilisi City Court Judge Nino Nachkhebia has ruled that Lazare Grigoriadis is guilty of assaulting his father, Beka Grigoriadis, with a knife. 

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


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