Georgian President: “We lost all our friends, we can end up completely isolated”
Georgian President Zurabishvili’s briefing on EU accession
The anti-Western rhetoric of the government, its inaction, disruption of international visits, misleading the public, the so-called “second front”, insulting MEPs, friends and allies, the threat of isolation – these issues were raised by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili at a special briefing on Georgia’s accession to the European Union.
The President severely criticized the Georgian government. Summing up her visits to Europe and America, Zurabishvili said that there is still a small but real chance for the EU integration, although “much has already been spoiled”.
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The briefing by Salome Zurabishvili took place on June 14 at the Orbeliani Palace in Tbilisi. The President announced this briefing the day before. The President’s statements were preceded by a critical resolution of the European Parliament and a number of sharply anti-Western statements by the Prime Minister of Georgia.
“Many of our chances are missed”
Salome Zurabishvili started the conversation by summing up the results of her visit to Brussels.
“In Brussels, I found that many of our chances were missed. An important milestone last year was the declaration of the Batumi Associated Trio, which was signed on our initiative. Then it was clear that Georgia was in the lead. It’s bad that a year later Georgia moved from an advanced country to the last place in the queue for EU membership”.
The President spoke about the resolution of the European Parliament. The recommendation to impose sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili, in her opinion, was the result of government inaction. The opposition, Zurabishvili claims, was working for its own ends, but the government was not doing its part: “Sometimes the government chose silence, sometimes it gave insulting answers to serious questions. It has paid off”.
“We quarrel and insult everyone”
Salome Zurabishvili listed the decisions of the government over the past year, which, in her opinion, deprived Georgia of the status of an EU candidate.
The President recalled the declaration signed by the Associated Trio in Batumi last summer. In her opinion, it was a big step. However, errors followed:
“First of all, it was a mistake to annul the Charles Michel agreement. He visited Georgia on July 18, and on July 28 we announced the cancellation of the agreement”.
The President also mentioned materials published in September about surveillance, the appointment of members of the Council of Justice in November and a change in the procedure for electing the chairman of the CEC, the accelerated appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, and the abolition of the State Inspection Service in December.
Zurabishvili stressed that visits of government members to European countries and the United States have been suspended for a long time, and visits to Georgia have also been reduced.
“At the same time, we argue with everyone and make offensive statements. We fight with everyone. With each of the three Baltic countries, which were our main allies on the path of Euro-Atlantic integration, with Poland, with Ukraine. With President of the European Council Charles Michel, who visited Georgia three times”.
“We criticize others for whom the price of these sanctions is dear”
Salome Zurabishvili also touched upon the issue of Ukraine and sanctions. She said the government’s rhetoric raised questions about Ukraine and the subject of the sanctions was unclear:
“We criticize others for whom the price of these sanctions is dear. We view the sanctions negatively and tell them that they will be ineffective”.
Salome Zurabishvili talked a lot about the so-called “second front”. She said it was a conspiracy theory made up for manipulation:
“None of our partners has ever told us: “Where are you, why is there no second front, what are you going to do, get involved in the war. There is no such problem, it is a fiction, a lie”.
“Moldova was able to do what we had to – keep silent and work”
The President said that the answer to the question of what Georgia should do is simple:
“Even what Moldova did. They managed to do what we are trying to achieve. They managed to remain silent and work diplomatically in all European capitals. We didn’t, and that raises questions”.
This, according to the President, led to the threat of isolation:
“We have no friends or allies who will share and defend our position.
There is a danger of isolation that we have created with our own hands. This is a much more serious thing than the so-called “second front”.
The president blamed the government for this isolation.
“The responsibility for the current situation lies with the government, and no one can redistribute it, because the government is one”.
“We must show unity, we have no other solution”
Salome Zurabishvili said that despite “this complex picture”, there is still a small but real chance. She referred to a critical European Parliament resolution. According to her, there is a positive moment in it because it states that the population of Georgia deserves the status of a candidate.
The President said that now, a few days before the decision of the European Commission, Georgia must demonstrate unity.
“We will receive messages from both the European Parliament and the European Union, who say that not all lost. What should we do? First, what we have to offer from day one is unity, we have no other choice”.
The President invited the public, the government, the opposition, the ambassadors of the European Union and EU member states to gather together on Europe Square on June 16:
“Let’s see each other and show Europe our unity, our will – there will be no posters and statements. If someone wants to sing a song, he can sing. The rest will just stand up for what we want for our children, for the next generation of Europe”.
Salome Zurabishvili appealed to the organizers of the rally, scheduled for June 20, who are thinking about postponing the rally, which is fraught with many dangers:
“I don’t think now is the time to pursue political ambitions and divide society”, she said. Zurabishvili immediately turned to the authorities saying tha`t if any actions were taken to prevent the rally on June 20, it would be on the conscience of the authorities.
What is Zurabishvili going to do?
Zurabishvili separately appealed to the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen with a request to take into account the will of the Georgian people. The President also said that she would write a letter to the leaders of all 27 EU member states:
“I will present all the political, moral and strategic arguments as to why Georgia deserves this historic decision, and why not considering it could be a fatal mistake”.
Salome Zurabishvili specifically called on the opposition to refrain from disseminating destructive information.
“Today the question is who will be responsible for bringing Georgia to a new level. He will deserve the gratitude of the people and the strengthening of the political future.
I have high hopes that we will all take the most important path together. The goal is for us all to live together in the Georgia of our dreams, which will be both European and very Georgian”, the president said.