NewsThe Daily Beat

The Daily Beat: 26 May

On May 26, Georgia celebrated the 106th anniversary of the declaration of the first independent democratic republic and the 33rd anniversary of the restoration of its independence. President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, Speaker Shalva Papuashvili, and Defense Minister Irakli Chikovani addressed the citizens at the ceremony in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square. After the speeches, recruits in five regions of Georgia and Tbilisi simultaneously took the military oath.

Around 8 p.m., thousands of protesters against the Foreign Agents Law gathered near the Central Music Hall and marched from Tbilisi’s Kostava Street to Vake Park, repeating the route of the first Independence Day march on May 26, 1919, one year after Georgia declared independence. The demonstrations were held in other Georgian cities as well. Demonstrators claim that they will continue rallies in the days and weeks to come.

On Sunday evening, speaking at the event dedicated to the celebration of Georgia’s Independence Day and attended by the general public, the diplomatic corps, and representatives of the opposition, President Salome Zurabishvili presented the roadmap for resolving the political crisis and returning to the path of EU integration. She said that the October 2024 elections will be a referendum on the approval of the main provisions of this roadmap.

Political Council of the ruling Georgian Dream party issuedstatement in response to the announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken of a visa restriction policy against Georgian officials for the Foreign Agents Law. The GD calls it a “blatant attempt to limit Georgia’s independence and sovereignty” which is “especially cynical” ahead of the country’s Independence Day on May 26. The ruling party also argues that “the spread of sanctions to family members is a Fascist-Bolshevik phenomenon.”

Following the announcement of the visa restrictions and review of all US-Georgia relations by the US State Secretary, the Georgian opposition parties issued a joint statement, calling on those still “in the service of the Russian regime” to “take the side of truth” and fight with the majority of the Georgian people on the path of the country’s integration into the EU and NATO. Girchi-More Freedom, Droa, Ahali, Lelo for Georgia, United National Movement, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, and the Republican Party signed the joint statement.

Deputy Finance Minister Mirza Gelashvili announced his resignation. While he did not specify the reason for his decision, in his brief statement regarding the resignation Gelashvili underscored his commitment to European integration, declaring “Georgia’s future is in Europe!” A day earlier, another Deputy Finance Minister, Giorgi Kakaurdize noted that many Western organizations and states are against this law in its current form, further stating that the law needs to be amended.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), along with Senators Risch (R-Idaho), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Pete Rickets (R-Neb.), introduced a bill in the US Senate on May 23 entitled To Support Democracy and the Rule of Law in Georgia, and for Other Purposes, or the ‘‘Georgian People’s Act” (’’GPA”.) The Bill envisages a series of measures in response to the Georgian government’s recent acts and policies, including sanctions on Georgian officials, a review of foreign assistance, and a reassessment of the existing bilateral relations.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jim O’Brien at a briefing on May 24 spoke about the Foreign Agents Law passed by the ruling party in Georgia, emphasizing that the law and recent government actions are incompatible with Georgia’s EU and NATO aspirations and making clear that the U.S. decision to impose visa restrictions will affect both the MPs who supported the law and their families.

NATO Parliamentary Assembly issued a statement calling for immediate withdrawal of the law on Foreign Agents. NATO PA emphasizes that the law on Foreign Agents “is a step backward for Georgia’s democracy and runs counter to its NATO as well as EU aspirations and values” and if the President’s veto is overturned and the law is fully passed, “it will severely damage freedom of speech and association and undermine Georgia’s vibrant civil society and media landscape.”


Back to top button