GD Chair Lambasts President over Independence Day Speech

Ruling Georgian Dream party chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze has lambasted President Salome Zurabishvili over remarks about Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and the Georgian judiciary in her Independence Day speech.

Speaking with reporters on May 27, the GD leader claimed that the President had in her speech “practically mentioned Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region as neighbors and spoke about their sovereignty.”

As for the judiciary, MP Kobakhidze argued that in a “shameful” remark, President Zurabishvili had attacked the country’s courts system without backing the claim up with any arguments.

He claimed that the President had “joined the completely ungrounded campaign against the judiciary” and tried to “damage the reputation” of the courts system. “But in reality, she damaged the institution of presidency.”

“It is one thing for the opposition to make statements without any arguments, but it is a serious problem when the President makes statements without any arguments and attacks a state institution,” MP Kobakhidze said.

“This is a deviation from the role the President has as a guarantor of [state] institutions,” he added.

“I think it is a very serious problem when one does not know what to talk about on May 26, a festive day, and I think we should point it out to the Georgian President, to protect the institution,” he also argued.

In her speech, President Zurabishvili assured residents in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali that “Georgia will not act against you through war and force.”

“It is clear to everyone today which country threatens the sovereignty, identity and life of its neighbors. This is not Georgia,” she asserted.

“I appeal to you and offer that, as in the past we created the Georgian state together, now together we should create an equal future,” she addressed the residents of the occupied regions. “I offer to you to join us in a European united future. I offer you freedom, and the respect and protection of your language, your identity, your history, your culture. I offer you a new accord.”

As for the judiciary, the President had recalled the 13th and 14th centuries, stressing “the history of Georgian law would have adorned many European countries, and it is a bit of a shame that we cannot continue this legacy properly today.”

The Georgian Dream chair’s criticism comes amid a strained relationship between the President and the ruling party.

The GD has previously accused the President of violating the Georgian Constitution by allegedly refusing to sign off on several diplomatic appointments, and making trips to Paris and Brussels without the approval of the Government.

The Presidential administration has rejected the allegation of blocking diplomatic nominations, while President Zurabishvili has said she was forced to resort to personal connections to meet leaders in Paris and Brussels after being formally refused by the Government to make the working visits.

President Zurabishvili has also scolded the GD for portraying “anyone who disagrees with it as either a traitor or as the party of war” amid Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Against this backdrop, the ruling party has pushed through amendments to the Law on Constitutional Court to pave the path for a dispute with the President over the alleged blocking of the diplomatic appointments.

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