On October 20, Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili answered questions from the opposition during an interpellation session on the recently established strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Georgia. A total of nine MPs had summoned FM Darchiashvili under the interpellation procedure.
The interpellation proceeding was opened by opposition MP Teona Akubardia, who presented the questions to the Foreign Minister. The questions covered several key areas:
- Were the terms of the Sino-Georgian partnership established in consultation with government agencies, and did the Ministry of Foreign Affairs engage in prior communication with the Parliament, which plays a central role in shaping the country’s foreign policy?
- The MP sought a full account of the process leading to the finalization of the strategic partnership, including access to drafts of the adopted agreement and insight into the proposals made by the Georgian side during the working process. In this way, MP sought to ensure that the Georgian side was effectively involved in the preparation of the final Sino-Georgian joint statement.
- Concerns were raised about the lack of China’s commitment to upholding Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the Sino-Georgian Joint Statement on Strategic Partnership.
- Questions were raised about the alignment of cooperation with China, such as the mutual commitment to share governance experience, with Georgia’s aspirations for NATO and EU membership.
Lack of Parliamentary Involvement
Teona Akubardia asked the Foreign Minister whether Parliament had been informed in advance of the executive branch’s decision to establish a strategic partnership with the People’s Republic of China. According to FM Darchiashvili, the government acted within its powers and in accordance with the Constitution, which in this case does not provide for a legal obligation to proactively consult with Parliament. “Those documents that require ratification are always submitted to Parliament,” Darchiashvili added.
Together with other documents concerning Sino-Georgian relations, FM Darchiashvili also cited Development Strategy of Georgia: Vision 2030, according to which, the Minister said, “it is important for Georgia to deepen partnerships with countries in Asia and Oceania” and “steps will be taken to deepen bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China, which is the second leading economy in the world. Georgia’s task will be to strengthen bilateral relations with China and develop positive dynamics in the trade and economic sphere.”
PRC or West?
FM Darchiashvili asserted that “the declared goals of the parties [ed. PRC and Georgia] do not imply a change in the direction of Georgia’s foreign policy” and are fully in line with the country’s development strategy as well as the historical choice of the Georgian people.
Darchiashvili boasted that Georgia remains the only country in the region to have free trade agreements with both the European Union and the People’s Republic of China, adding that “Georgia has proven to be a reliable partner for both China and the EU.”
Commenting on the Chinese government’s initiative called Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (also known as China-CEE, China-CEEC), Darchiashvili noted that numerous members of the European Union are part of this platform, and Georgia’s engagement as an observer would serve as an additional leverage to move closer to the EU.
Territorial Integrity of Georgia Not Sufficiently Addressed?
MP Teona Akubardia criticized the Georgian government for concluding the Joint Statement on Strategic Partnership which lacks a clear commitment by the PRC to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
In response, Darchiashvili tried to assure the Parliament that “the Chinese government has never questioned Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. They are well aware that the Russian Federation continues to occupy twenty percent of our territories” and that “it is one of the main priorities of our government” to peacefully de-occupy the country through political means.
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