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President Denounces Ivanishvili’s “Provocative” Speech, Urges High-Level European Visits

On May 4, at the meeting with the EU Ambassadors, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili said ruling Georgian Dream founder and honorary chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s speech at the April 29 counter-rally in support of the Foreign Agents Bill “was very provocative… towards you [EU], but also towards the Georgian population.” The President said Georgia is in a “tense” situation and, in this context, called on Ambassadors to encourage high-level visits from Europe in May as busier period in Europe begins in June.

Speaking of the recent protests against the bill, she noted that youths are on the streets “in a very peaceful and responsible way.” The President said she is not a leader of any movement, but supports “what is going along with our European will.”

In this context, she also stressed the importance of stability, and added that “whatever happens today or tomorrow” is entirely the government’s responsibility, “because they initiated this set of events which followed out of nowhere,” all of these when the whole country was united around Georgia’s EU candidacy and European Championship ticket.

The President reiterated the bill was a “provocation and violence” on people. She also mentioned that the “violence” has occurred against Georgia’s partners as well, and offered her “excuses” for the wording directed at them.

She spoke about the partner’s support to Georgia for over thirty years, and reassured the EU Ambassadors that “never has the Georgian population felt that it was in any way enslaved to any of your countries or dominated by any of your countries.”

The President accused the Georgian authorities of “violence in rhetoric” and pledged to continue efforts to preserve stable environment. “And I’m here to do everything that I can from where I am to preserve the stable environment, to preserve the possibility of going towards the election, which will give the possibility to correct all the laws that have been taken that do not correspond to our European integration plans,” she said.

In this regard, she said the there must be responsibility and less provocations coming from the Georgian Dream authorities, and reiterated to the partners that “the very crucial” period is coming as the third reading of the Foreign Agents Bill approaches. “The way the dates are chosen are also a bit provocative.” According to her, the Easter period could have been used for depolarization and unification instead.

In her speech, she also thanked the partners for the declarations of support towards Georgia, and reassured that the country’s European aspirations remain as enshrined in the Constitution.

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