Opposition on Boycott while Speaker Talakvadze Addresses Parliament

On February 18, Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze delivered an annual report summing up the parliament’s activities during the last year; none of the opposition members attended the session in protest.

Addressing his fellow lawmakers, the cabinet of ministers, and authorities of Adjara and Abkhazia autonomous republics, Speaker Talakvadze said that in current “political opposition” there are people who “sold our strategic objects to Russian companies, abandoned soldiers on the battlefield, and left peaceful population [behind] in the war zone [during Russo-Georgian war of 2008].”

While Talakvadze was slamming the Georgian opposition for signing the Council of Europe resolution, “which accused Georgia of starting military actions [against Russia in 2008],” the opposition European Georgia MPs Elene Khoshtaria and Irma Nadirashvili entered the hall to interrupt the session with the Soviet Union anthem. The two opposition lawmakers were immediately forced to leave the session.

According to the rules of procedure, adopted in 2018, the Speaker should present the report summing up the activities throughout the previous year and set priorities for the following year in the first week of the spring plenary session.

In his further remarks, Archil Talakvadze spoke of “a subjective and sometimes destructive approach” of the opposition ahead of upcoming parliamentary polls. He said, some of the opposition representatives with “zero or low support” among the Georgian public “carry out [their] election campaign abroad and attempt to achieve results by harming the image of their country and its authorities,” in order to enter the parliament in 2020 “despite their low support and grave political biographies.”

Talakvadze also noted that in 2018 the Georgian Dream fulfilled its promise and wrote in the constitution that the electoral system would be switched to fully proportional in 2024. He said, the ruling party supports a dialogue over the electoral changes for 2020 as well, and that it has offered “a compromising” proposal to tweak the existing mixed electoral system.

Referring to the recent letters of concern from the U.S. and European lawmakers, Speaker Talakvadze said that “there was indeed a delay in communication” with them after the ruling party’s MPs – “responsible for foreign relations” – left the parliamentary majority amid the failure to adopt the electoral amendment in November 2019. Talakvadze said that today the ruling Georgian Dream party enjoys “active” communication with the Western partners and will keep them updated about the upcoming polls.

MP Nadirashvili, who played Soviet anthem during Talakvadze’s annual address, said the spirit of that anthem best describes the situation at the Georgian parliament. Speaking with TV Pirveli later, she said today’s plenary at the parliament “was an ordinary session of the Communist party.” Further, Nadirashvili slammed Talakvadze’s remarks “cynical.”

“You have political prisoners in the country, and I would like to remind you that Gigi Ugulava was taken to jail straight from the negotiation table, every opposition leader is being threatened with imprisonment, and [criminal] cases have been launched against the managers of critical media… Georgia does not want to return to the Soviet Union,” Nadirashvili stated.

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