Lawmakers Sum Up Joint Trip to Ukraine
Lawmakers of the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties have summarized their multipartisan visit to Ukraine after returning to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, on April 17.
Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said in a press briefing today that the visit allowed the sides to “sort out many issues,” including the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Intelligence’s claim that Georgia was allowing Russia to set up a smuggling channel through its territory.
“I noted there that Georgia has undergone three wars, in the 1990s, in 2008, in which Russia participated,” he stressed, going on to argue “we are of course especially sensitive, observant if there are any claims [or] implications that Georgia may have negotiations with Russia on the side.”
The parliamentary chairperson said the parties argued to check any claims spread by the media outlets or other organizations with each other first. “In times of crisis, the information space is especially vulnerable to disinformation,” he highlighted.
Speaker Papuashvili confirmed to reporters that Verkhovnada Rada Chair Ruslan Stefanchuk had appealed to the Georgian side to consider the possibility to impose bilateral sanctions against Russia.
“We do not have any instruments as regards bilateral sanctions that could realistically have any effect on Russia’s decisions,” the Speaker said he told the Ukrainian colleague in “an honest conversation.”
“It is key for Ukraine and us that Georgia will not be a country where Russia will be able to sidestep the sanctions,” he added.
As for the international sanctions regime against Russia, Speaker Papuashvili stressed he informed the Ukrainian colleague that Georgia upholds all the financial measures “automatically.”
Vice Speaker Levan Ioseliani of the Citizens party, who was part of the delegation, said today that the trip was a “turning point” for the deteriorating ties between Kyiv and Tbilisi amid Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
He argued that now it is up to the Government of Georgia to use “this possibility.”
“What happened was very important, that nearly a [fully representative] parliamentary delegation visited and showed our support to the Ukrainian Government and people,” the Vice Speaker also stressed.
He then lambasted the United National Movement, the largest opposition party, for choosing to pursue “narrow party interests” and refusing to make the visit alongside the GD.
Vice Speaker Ioseliani also asserted that “Ukraine will definitely win, and we all must make our contribution to this victory as we can.”
“This is the national interest of the country,” the opposition lawmaker added.
Another opposition member of the delegation, Lelo MP Ana Natsvlishvili said in a Facebook post late on April 17 that the trip was “much needed for the relations of the two countries.”
Both sides pledged to improve the recently strained ties, according to the MP’s account.
She also welcomed the Georgian Speaker’s promise that the country will not become a “loophole for Russia to avoid sanctions,” stressing this was exactly what the opposition had demanded, “during the 52 days of the war.”
“It was confirmed that you can be cautious, but not cowardly,” MP Natsvlishvili said. “This should continue, Ukraine does not deserve us turning our backs on them, and neither does our heroic history.”
Speaker Shalva Papuashvili, Vice Speakers Archil Talakvadze and Davit Sergeenko and Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee Chair Beka Odisharia from the GD, Vice Speaker Levan Ioseliani of Citizens Party, Ana Natsvlishvili of Lelo, Giorgi Khojevanishvili of For Georgia, Vakhtang Megrelishvili of New Political Center – Girchi and Khatuna Samnidze of Republican Party left for Ukraine on April 15.
On April 16 they traveled to the towns of Bucha and Irpin, northwest of Kyiv which saw egregious crimes during the weeks-long Russian occupation.
The trip came following a week of political controversy after Speaker Shalva Papuashvili initially turned down his Ukrainian colleague’s invitation on April 8, prompting the opposition to take it upon themselves to make the trip.
Subsequently, the Georgian Speaker made a u-turn on his decision, citing “intensive and friendly” communication with the Verkhovna Rada Chair, and began to set up a multipartisan delegation.
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