Zurabishvili Scolds Georgian Dream Over Quitting EU-Brokered Deal

“We demand respect from foreigners and are annoyed by their instructions, their criticisms, their remarks. But to be respected […] we must respect ourselves and we must respect our word,” said Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili in reaction to the Georgian Dream party’s unilateral withdrawal from EU-brokered April 19 agreement some six days ago.

In a special briefing this evening, the President said “the post-facto ‘discovery’ that it turns out we gave up something that was unacceptable and that might harm the country is incomprehensible. In my experience, red lines are crossed before signing.”

The remarks came as she met both the ruling party representatives and the opposition yesterday.

Referring to one of Georgian Dream’s arguments of withdrawal that the agreement “exhausted” itself, she said “the process behind this document, the goals that this document pursues and the principles on which this document is based on are not exhaustive and represent the path that this country must go through.”

She stressed that the document lived up to the expectations, as the political crisis is over, a multi-party Parliament has been formed and the political process has shifted from the street to Parliament. She also hailed the new election code adopted as per the deal and expressed hopes that the agreement will hold on lowering election threshold.

The President also noted that as a result of the April 19 document “some opposition forces failed to take to the streets, lost all resources of destabilization and, by not signing, marginalized themselves.” “This is why I disagree with the ruling party’s assessment that polarization has not been reduced, an argument used for their leaving the document.”

President Zurabishvili also noted that Georgian political actors should value the EU involvement in Georgia and the Caucasus, as close cooperation with western partners offers Georgia a path with “no alternative” to development and deoccupation.

“That is why I believe, and I even told the representatives of the ruling party, that the process of preparing the document was extremely positive, because the involvement in Georgia, in the Caucasus, in the EU’s neighborhood of the President of the European Council, one of the main political figures in the European Union, is very important for us.”

Alluding to anti-European rhetoric that reemerged among ultraconservatives and the Orthodox clergy in the aftermath of disrupted LGBT pride march, President Zurabishvili said “attempts to convince us that Europe is not the land of freedom, solidarity and Christianity but a path toward perversion only work to try and separate us from our only path… And we understand well in whose interest this falls.”

In her press briefing, the President of Georgia also discussed local elections schedulef for October 2. “These elections should be exemplary, the rights of all subjects should be protected, which excludes violence, hate speech and insults, use of personal data, calling competitors “traitors”, obstruction of professional activities for the media, spread of fake news and various pressures.”

She said “I, as the guarantor of democracy, stability and Europeanness in this country, call on them to be involved and active, as our partners expect, and we ask these partners to appoint numerous observation missions, democratic and fair elections must be held in this country.”

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