Commissioner Várhelyi Denies Threatening PM Kobakhidze Over Agents’ Law

On May 23, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi issued a statement denying accusations by Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, who had stated earlier in the day that one of the EU Commissioners had “threatened” him during a phone call, reminding him of the May 15 assassination attempt on Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and telling him to be careful. Commissioner Várhelyi expressed “very sincere regret” that a certain part of the phone conversation with the Georgian Prime Minister “was taken out of context” and “presented to the public in a way which could give rise to a complete misinterpretation of the originally intended aim” of the phone call.

Commissioner Várhelyi noted that as the Commissioner responsible for Neighbourhood and Enlargement he is in regular contact with Georgian government officials, in an attempt to keep communication channels always open for “direct political exchanges”. The Commissioner noted: “In the current political situation of Georgia, I have been investing major efforts in dissuading the Georgian political leadership to adopt the Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence which can undermine Georgia’s EU path.”

The Commissioner stated: “Being fully aware of the very strong pro-EU sentiment of the Georgian society, during my phone conversation I felt the need to call the attention of the Prime Minister on the importance not to enflame further the already fragile situation by adopting this law which could lead to further polarisation and to possible uncontrolled situations on the streets of Tbilisi.  In this regard, the latest tragic event in Slovakia was made as an example and as a reference to where such high level of polarisation can lead in a society even in Europe.”

Commissioner Várhelyi emphasized his regret that part of the phone call was taken out of the context and presented to the public in a wrong way. He underlined: “I am still urging the Georgian authorities not to adopt this law. I ask this also as a well known and so far respected friend of Georgia. I am continuing to support Georgians working towards a European future.”

In his scandalous statement released earlier in the day, Prime Minister Kobakhidze emphasized that after the introduction of the Foreign Agents Law, there has been constant “open sabotage” and “blackmail” of the Georgian government by high-ranking foreign officials, which “has lost its meaning for the public and the government”. However, the Prime Minister notes that despite being used to this “blackmail”, it was still shocking for him to hear “one of the Commissioners” talking about all the measures that Western politicians might take if the veto on the Agents Law is overturned and saying “did you see what happened to Fico, you should be very careful”.

“When the Prime Minister of Slovakia, who was a target of a terrorist attack a few days ago and is still undergoing treatment, is mentioned in the context of blackmail related to the Transparency Law, it is extremely disturbing to us. I would like to emphasize that according to preliminary information, the special services of one of the countries, which are particularly closely connected with the Global War Party, are behind the attack on the Prime Minister,” noted Prime Minister Kobakhidze.

PM Kobakhidze stated that he decided to share this information with Georgian society as a “preventive measure”, noting: “The parallel drawn with the attempted assassination of Robert Fico reminds us that we are dealing with an extremely dangerous force in the form of the Global War Party, which will do anything to bring chaos to Georgia. I am sure that their plans will not succeed this time either, and Georgia will definitely maintain peace and political stability, which is a necessary condition for the country’s development”.

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