Georgian PM Garibashvili: "We do not want war, even if it is the price of joining the EU"
PM Garibashvili’s controversial statement on EU accession
Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili made a number of contoversial statements on all major political issues on June 13, including:
- He justified the decision not to impose sanctions against Russia by “defending the peace and security of Georgia.”
- He declared European Parliament’s criticism of Georgia “unfair”, “shameful” and “anti-Georgian”.
- He argued that it was his government that promoted the process of the country’s European integration.
- He accused the opposition, primarily the United National Movement and the imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, of trying to organize a coup d’état and called it a “destructive force.”
The statement was made during the first government meeting since the publication of the European Parliament’s critical resolution on Georgia.
The European Parliament stated that it supports granting Georgia the status of an EU candidate member, but only after the country fulfills certain conditions. Prior to this, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on violations of media freedom in Georgia and the problems of the safety of journalists.
It also urged the European Council to consider imposing personal sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili, an oligarch who is considered the informal ruler of Georgia.
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“Government did not impose sanctions against Russia and thereby saved this country”
If the Georgian government had not shown prudence and launched sanctions against Russia, there would be no economic growth and investment in the country, Garibashvili said.
“This would mean that we should stop trade and economic relations with Russia. Millions of our fellow citizens live in Russia, does anyone even think about these people working in Russia, and what would await them?! Not to mention four million people, our citizens, who live in our country today. What will happen to them?
Garibashvili also recalled the opening of the Russian market for dairy products, “about which a thousand cynical statements were made”:
“The European Union pays Russia a billion dollars every day. Since the beginning of the war, $90 billion has flowed into Russia as a result of the trade that Russia still conducts with Europe. Don’t we have national interests? Will the Georgian people have to suffer again, be oppressed, get involved in a war, lose territories, statehood?”
“European Parliament’s resolution is shameful, anti-Georgian and anti-state”
The Prime Minister of Georgia expressed his protest against the resolution of the European Parliament on Georgia.
“Really shameful accusations are written in the resolution, but they lack facts and evidence”, Garibashvili said.
In his opinion, the resolution was adopted under the influence of the leader of the Georgian opposition, the United National Movement (created with the participation of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili).
The prime minister criticized “irresponsible, harmful opposition politicians” who “travel to Europe and spread lies about Georgia”:
“Remember how we worked together with the European Union to provide Georgia with a visa-free regime. [The oppositionists] literally begged Europe not to give the country this opportunity.
They wanted our country and people to be punished. This time they managed to do it.
“Why didn’t the United National Movement call on the European Parliament not to adopt such a shameful, anti-state and anti-Georgian resolution? Everyone understands what their goals were”.
“Georgia deserves EU candidate status more than Ukraine and Moldova”
Irakli Garibashvili stated that among the three states that applied for candidate status (Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), Georgia deserves the candidate status the most:
“They say that Ukraine is in a state of war and therefore should receive the status of a candidate for joining the European Union. But if war is the price of that status, we don’t want war. We have requested the status we have earned with 30 years of freedom fighting and nine years of reforms”, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on June 13.
“Georgia is ten times ahead of Ukraine and Moldova in all areas, and in many respects even ahead of the EU member states”
Having stated this, the prime minister referred to “ratings and assessments of the country’s achievements”, which are compiled by authoritative international organizations.
“Why is there a [false] impression that there is no independent judiciary in Georgia and there are problems with media freedom?”
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“Until 2012, there were no signs of democracy or free media in Georgia. If Bidzina Ivanishvili had not come to power, we would not have a country today, because it would be involved in the war. The second Mariupol would happen here.
What did they do during the August 2008 war? We remember the commander-in-chief lying on the ground, who showed the whole world a shameful face [referring to the then President Mikheil Saakashvili JAMnews].[The people of Georgia] were then killed and destroyed. We have lost territories, more than 100 villages, and received tens of thousands of refugees in our own country. It was a continuation of the irresponsible policy they [the Saakashvili government] started”.
“Georgian Dream led Georgia to the European integration”
Garibashvili said that “if anyone has done anything in terms of European integration over the past 30 years, it is Georgian Dream (the ruling party).
Prior to this, “in this European country, the dictatorial regime was just being consolidated”.
As achievements of his government, the Prime Minister listed the Association Agreement and Duty-Free Trade with the European Union, obtaining a visa-free regime with the countries of the Schengen area and an application for obtaining the status of a candidate for accession to the EU, sent on March 3, 2022.
“Our party wrote in the constitution that Georgia’s foreign policy course is Euro-Atlantic. We have also brought real, tangible results to the country along this path.[The opposition] says that if Georgia does not end up with the status, the government will be held responsible. In no case! The government has done everything possible. The rest is workflow”.
“Public Defender said nothing when people were tortured and killed under Saakashvili’s rule”
The Prime Minister criticized the Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria, who negatively assessed the statements of government members in response to the adoption of the resolution:
“Lomjaria publicly accused me of rather [being left without status] than throw bombs and burn the country. During Saakashvili’s time, she held a different position. Does anyone remember her then publicly condemning human suffering: torture, terror against businessmen, murder?
The resolution [of the European Parliament] refers [to the arrest] of David Kezerashvili [former Minister of Defense under Saakashvili, co-owner of the opposition TV channel Formula — JAMnews]. His own company had a turnover of one billion dollars. Where did this money come from? From robberies, business racketeering. We have freedom of the media in our country, anyone in Europe and America can ask a question [about this] and get an answer”.
“United National Movement” is trying to organize a coup d’état”
In his speech at a government meeting, the Prime Minister repeatedly mentioned the United National Movement. He called them the “fifth column” and accused them of trying to organize a coup d’état.
He linked the imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili with “attempts to send contraband to Georgia”.
Garibashvili also mentioned Peter Ackerman, the head of the International Center for Non-Violent Conflicts, who was involved in holding a large general meeting of the opposition in Georgia in the spring of 2022.
“Ackerman, one of the famous revolutionaries, the sponsor and ideologist of the revolutions, came to Georgia to prepare our destructive fifth column for a peaceful revolution, for a peaceful upheaval in the country. But soon he died. And they were left without a patron”.
“Rally scheduled for June 20 is a provocation”
The Prime Minister of Georgia called the rally planned by the opposition on June 20 a “provocation” and said that “the government will protect the peace of citizens and the stability of the country with all the instruments provided by the law.”
Earlier, the activists announced their intention to demonstrate the society’s hope for Georgia to receive the status of a candidate for EU accession and to hold a motor rally on June 20 under the slogan “Forward to Europe”.
Garibashvili said that the United National Movement was behind the rally.
“It turns out that these actions [for joining the European Union] are organized by the same political forces that killed, raped, tortured. And after the war, they handed over all the strategic facilities to the occupying country of Russia – and unilaterally opened a visa-free regime. And this evil clown Saakashvili himself met Russian citizens at the border”.
“Borjomi Company is now owned by Georgia, all problems will be solved”
The Prime Minister said that the state has already become the owner of the shares of the Borjomi company in full compliance with the norms of international law, and will soon solve all the problems related to it.
Prior to this, the company was owned by Russian businessmen who were under international sanctions. This led to a ban on Borjomi products, big problems for the company, and protests and strikes by its workers that lasted more than two weeks.
Garibashvili said that he also instructed the ministers of health and economy to join the processes.
“Unprecedented economic growth in Georgia”
At the same meeting, the Prime Minister spoke about the unprecedented economic growth, and the strengthening of the lari exchange rate, saying that 650 families of internally displaced persons will soon receive apartments in their ownership.