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PM Kobakhidze Talks Controversial Topics with Media

On May 30, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze spoke to the media at the opening of a new bridge in Tbilisi. The Prime Minister commented on a wide range of controversial issues.

Chinese consortium and Anaklia port

Prime Minister dismissed the critical comments about the Sino-Singaporean consortium, whose leading partner, CCCC, had been black-listed for questionable practices, winning the bid for the Anaklia Deep Sea Port. PM Kobakhidze said that the winner is a “very large” Chinese state company with “great experience” and that its participation guarantees the successful completion of the project. He also argued the “anti-China campaign” has been unleashed in Georgia by certain “politicians and their NGOs” financed from abroad.

As to why only a Chinese company wanted to participate in this project, the PM said: “Had there been interest from certain states, they would not have found it difficult to engage an investor in carrying out this project. However, unfortunately, things happened as they did. I do not want to give further comments on this…”

“Radical opposition”

Fielding a set-piece question from pro-government media about the alleged “hate campaign” against the Georgian Dream members who supported the Foreign Agents Law and their families, the PM blamed the “radical opposition” who, according to him, have lost and are trying to save face with their supporters.

Commenting on the Fair Trees Fund’s decision to withdraw the free dental clinic project for children in the western Georgian town of Oni because of the Foreign Agents Law, Prime Minister Kobakhidze blamed the opposition party Lelo and one of its leaders, Badri Japaridze, for the Fund’s decision, calling it “shameful.” He added that this fund is not an independent NGO since its board is chaired by Badri Japaridze, something that has been refuted by the fund.

Slamming German Ambassador, Estonian FM

Commenting about the German Ambassador Peter Fischer’s statement that the EU will not open accession talks with Georgia as long as the Foreign Agents law is in effect, PM Kobakhidze accused the Ambassador of making anti-Georgian comments and said that he “cannot be of value to us.” “Let me remind you that together with Lelo [opposition party], he went for the pre-election campaign; he went to [a south-Georgian town of] Bolnisi with Lelo leaders. In light of such frivolous actions, I cannot attach much importance to this man’s statements… Germany, which has traditionally distinguished itself as a state full of responsibility, should not send such ambassadors to a country like Georgia,” he said.

A journalist asked the Prime Minister about the reports that the appearance of Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna at a rally against the law on foreign agents in Tbilisi was not “agreed” with the [Estonian] Prime Minister, PM Kobakhidze said that the fact that Estonian Foreign Minister participates in an opposition rally in Georgia without his PMs consent speaks of “the lack of seriousness.”

Ukraine government “appointed from the outside”

Kobakhidze also reiterated that the ruling party would not allow the “Maidan” to happen in Georgia and claimed that before 2013, Ukraine was an integral state with a 200-billion-dollar economy, and now the country has “collapsed.” He argued that following the “Maidan” events in Ukraine, two consecutive governments were appointed from “the outside,” and “those who appointed these governments” shrugged off responsibility for the tragic developments in the country.

Government transparent – not NGOs

PM Kobakhidze also commented on the Open Budget Index 2023 by the Open Budget Partnership, where Georgia leads the list. He claimed that Georgia is “distinguished” worldwide when it comes to transparency and said the only field that remained non-transparent was the NGO sector, something that he argued would be “fixed” by the foreign agents’ law.

Slight at Zurabishvili

Kobakhidze also lashed out at President Salome Zurabishvili, ironically thanking her for concocting a “registry of foreign agents” by attempting to unite the opposition. PM claimed that all the opposition parties in Georgia are part of the “collective United National Movement.”

Dismissive of ECtHR Appeal

When asked about the prospect of the Foreign Agents Law being challenged at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), he claimed that the ruling party had thoroughly researched the Court’s practices before introducing the legislation and expressed hope that the Strasbourg court would not come under “political influence.”

Defending violent police commander

The PM defended the Director of the Special Tasks Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Zviad Kharazishvili, who allegedly directed and participated in the brutal battering of some protesters. When asked whether Khazarashvili should be held accountable after his recent remarks that he does not beat “young people” but only “scoundrels” and has “a list,” the PM said these comments were “ironic,” and “of course, it cannot be perceived as any kind of admission [of guilt].”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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