GD Chair Claims Opposition Campaigns Against Georgia’s EU Candidacy
Ruling Georgian Dream party chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze claimed today that the opposition parties are “agitating against Georgia receiving the EU membership candidate status.”
“Georgia is ahead of Ukraine and Moldova by every parameter,” the ruling party leader argued in a press briefing today. “Therefore, the only thing left is for the EU to make a political decision.”
The GD chair further claimed that “only those who want unrest in Georgia and for our country to join the war can oppose Georgia receiving the status of an EU membership candidate.”
“We call on the radical opposition to put aside its vicious, biased political intentions at least once and stop the agitprop against Georgia, he added.
In this context, MP Kobakhidze elaborated that the GD has “specific information that specific politicians from the radical opposition” are campaigning in Brussels against Georgia receiving the candidate status, possibly alluding to the recent separate trips by Lelo and For Georgia party members to the European capital.
In the briefing, the GD leader also claimed that “anyone dissatisfied with the Georgian Government’s stance on Ukraine is in reality dissatisfied with the fact that Georgia does not join the war.” He called on the opposition to make a public list of things that Georgia could have done to support Ukraine more.
“We see that foreigners also have a feeling of dissatisfaction, which they indicate either publicly or in official meetings, but unfortunately we have not heard any arguments from them either,” the GD chief also noted. “We are interested in why their and the UNM’s rhetoric is alike, thus it would be good if they also listed what we could have done but did not do in support of Ukraine.”
The Georgian Dream chair’s new accusation against the opposition comes as Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili previously on May 21 claimed that opposition leaders — “anti-state, hostile forces” — are trying to convince the EU not to grant Georgia the status of a candidate.
Against this backdrop, the GD party members and Government officials have brushed aside the concerns of eight key MEPs on EU-Georgia affairs, who said on May 17 that the incarceration of Nika Gvaramia — chief of key government-critical TV station Mtavari Arkhi — seriously endangered “Georgia’s European future.”
Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee Chair Nikoloz Samkharadze claimed that the MEPs had made a “perception-based statement” and that the “vast majority” of the lawmakers were opposition supporters.
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Tea Tsulukiani, also Vice PM, took aim at one of the signatories, MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, telling her “Georgia is a nation in the first place that you must respect.”
The developments come as Georgia awaits the European Commission’s opinion on its membership bid and the subsequent decision by EU leaders on whether to grant Tbilisi the status of a candidate.
Opposition Reacts to GD Chief’s Claim
The Georgian Dream chair’s comments were met with swift reactions from the opposition, with United National Movement MP Levan Bezhashvili dubbing the statement an attempt by the ruling party to shift its responsibility to the opposition.
The GD Government is responsible for the EU’s decision on whether to make Georgia a membership candidate and “a failure of this process should be a verdict” against them, the UNM lawmaker argued.
The UNM MP shot back at the ruling party, claiming GD is “sabotaging Georgia’s EU membership candidacy,” and suggested that PM Garibashvili had “quite difficult conversations” when meeting EU officials in Brussels last week.
Salome Samadashvili, Lelo MP, lambasted GD Chair Kobakhidze for telling “shameless lies”, especially regarding Ukraine and Moldova standing behind Georgia in terms of the criteria for EU candidacy.
“Because [the GD leadership] does not want to straight-up say that they root for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and regard the West as an enemy, to remain in power, they now want to blame their failure in Europe, the West on the opposition and its criticisms,” European Georgia Chair Giga Bokeria said.
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