Ruling Party Defiant as European Parliament Debate Fuels Controversy in Georgia

Yesterday’s debate at the European Parliament session, highly critical of the ruling Georgian Dream and its attempts to legislate against civil society groups and free media, has fueled the flurry of commentary from Georgia’s political class. As five draft resolutions are tabled in Strasbourg for the vote tomorrow, April 25, the ruling party tries to brush aside the criticism as irrelevant and attacks the critical MEPs personally, while the opposition hopes that the talk of sanctions would incite the Georgian Dream to change the course. has collected the reactions of Georgian politicians to the debate in the European Parliament.

Ruling Party

Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Parliament: “Among the speakers yesterday were people involved in the secret financing of political parties and radical groups in Georgia. Clandestine money is spent in Georgia by the European Endowment for Democracy […] MEPs manage this fund […] Anna Fotyga and Michael Gahler are on the board. So this [foreign influence] bill also relates to them and their transparency. […] They are doing their best not to be transparent themselves and to spend the money secretly, as they have done before. […] Under the MEPs management [EED], money is secretly spent in Georgia on radical parties, such as “Droa.” It is also spent on radical groups [like] “Shame Movement,” it is spent on romanticizing “Molotov cocktails.” Unfortunately, in the absence of a [foreign influence] law, we don’t get information [on this funding] directly, and sometimes we even get it by accident. When we talk about “black money,” we don’t mean “black money” in the sense of tax code; we mean money that is unknown to our society and is used to put certain thoughts into the heads of [Georgians]. “

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the leader of the GD parliamentary majority: “Come on, what sanctions?! People have died [before] for the homeland, for their country’s independence, and have sacrificed themselves for this idea. And they think they can threaten us with sanctions?! First of all, is it imaginable that for this, for making laws, a European body would dare to impose sanctions on MPs elected by people?! This is nonsense. We are extending a friendly hand to our European friends and partners. Our opponents are trying to impose the lord onto themselves; we will not let anyone lord over us. We will be friends, dignified friends, and we will participate in any work that won’t destroy Georgia physically and won’t destroy the Georgian identity. […] In short, we won’t allow anyone to push us into war like they did two or three years ago. We want friendship, and some people in this country, as it turns out, want to have overlords, and this shall not pass.”

Irakli Zarkua, “Georgian Dream”: “Of course, no one will impose sanctions, this is another [provocation]. […] Who cares what [Andrius] Kubilius and the rest of the hapless [MEPs] say at the microphone? […] You saw that there were five or six MEPs gathered in an empty hall, those are lobbyists and partners of the party of torturers [likely referring to UNM], not the partners of our state, as it became obvious.”


Nika Gvaramia, Ahali: “Everybody here [in the EU] is watching and reading everything. People watch videos and read information. […] The main and important thing is that these people [GD officials and police suspected of excessive force] are on the EU radar, and the chilling effect of the sanctions will approach them very soon. So, think well, think twice, three times, and 22 times before you make any illegal decision.”

Giorgi Vashadze, Strategy Aghmashenebeli: “It’s even more difficult to hear statements that visa-free travel, candidate status can be revised, [and] talks regarding sanctions, aggravating our daily situation. I appeal to the Georgian Dream MPs to put the interests of their homeland ahead of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s demands because today is really a decisive moment: [either] Georgia will continue to move in the direction of the European Union or we will hit the dead end.”

Salome Samadashvili, Lelo for Georgia: “It is very important that everyone who fulfills the tasks of Bidzina Ivanishvili understands this… No one can hide behind Bidzina Ivanishvili. This is precisely why personal responsibility, including the imposition of sanctions, was put on the agenda. […] This is [qualitatively] new development”.

Beka Liluashvili, For Georgia: “We see the extent of international positions and assessments of our partners […] a large part of the speeches of the MEPs yesterday focused on the potential dangers and risks for the European future of our country, which the adoption of this law may cause.”

On April 3, the parliamentary majority leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, announced the reintroduction of the draft law on foreign agents, which was dropped last year after the massive rallies on March 7-9. According to Mdinaradze, the content of the bill remains the same, the only change is in the title: the word “agent” in it has been removed and the title has been replaced with “Organization Pursuing the Interests of a Foreign Power”. The decision has drawn sharp criticism from the civil society and opposition within the country and from Georgia’s international partners. The bill has already passed in the first reading.

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