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The Daily Beat: 21 February

Russian state-owned media outlet TASS reported that 22-year-old Mamuka Gatserelia, a Georgian citizen and Azovstal defender in Ukraine, has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the occupied Donetsk region for the alleged “killing of three Russian soldiers.” Russian side refuses to include Gatserelia in a prisoner exchange program, citing his Georgian nationality and describing him as a mercenary. According to Gatserelia’s mother, the Georgian Foreign Ministry and Ukrainian Embassy in Tbilisi are aware of his captivity but, due to obvious reasons, can’t guarantee his safety.

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters in Brussels. According to an official press release, the PM and Secretary General discussed Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, Black Sea security matters, and prospects for future cooperation. During the meeting, PM Kobakhidze reaffirmed that the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration remains a top foreign policy priority, which is also provided for by the constitution. In his post on internet platform X, Jens Stoltenberg described Georgia as a valuable partner, calling on the authorities to step up reforms toward full membership in the Euro-Atlantic family.

While in Brussels, PM Kobakhidze also met with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola. PM Kobakhidze and President Metsola reviewed Georgia’s progress in European integration, assessed the EU-Georgia cooperation, and expressed their readiness to deepen the partnership. The situation in the occupied territories and regional and global security challenges were also addressed during the meeting. “European Parliament fully supports the European aspirations of the people of Georgia. Necessary reforms will be key as Georgia proceeds on its European path,” said Metsola in her post on the internet platform X.

Rikard Jozwiak, the Europe Editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, revealed that the Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó attended the EU-Georgia Association Council when junior diplomats usually attend Council meetings. According to Rikard Jozwiak, the Hungarian Foreign Minister explained his presence at the association council by the forthcoming Hungarian presidency, during which Hungary aims to open accession negotiations with Georgia. In a post on the internet platform X, Zoviak challenged Péter Szijjártó’s statement, claiming that such decisions need unanimity and should be based on the European Commission’s enlargement report.

In an interview with the Russian news agency TASS, Abkhazia’s de facto leader, Aslan Bzhania, praised Georgian authorities for their pragmatic approach and not engaging in Ukraine-staged provocation. When asked what he thought about “improving relations with Georgia, taking into account the political changes in the country,” Aslan Bzhania said that “in recent years, since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, the Georgian leaders… have shown a pragmatic approach to everything”. In an extensive interview, he also spoke about the recent fuel and electricity problems in the occupied region, relations with Russia, and the prospects of uniting with Russia and Belarus in a union state.


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