Op-ed: every Monday should be declared Georgia's day of national shame
Georgian authorities’ response to the war in Ukraine
It is safe to declare every Monday in Georgia a day of national shame. Government meetings are held on Mondays, and every time the head of government has something to say about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
This time, Irakli Gharibashvili did not change his habit and said:
“There will be no second front in Georgia, we will not allow this and will continue to protect our citizens and our state”.
There was no need to make this statement – everyone already knows, both inside and outside of Georgia, that Tbilisi will not open any second front and will not start hostilities against Russia.
However, this statement, of course, will not go unnoticed by either the Ukrainian authorities or the public – and it will most certainly cause more resentment.
On the other hand, this statement by the prime minister will surely earn approval of Russian propagandists, who have repeatedly praised the Georgian government since the beginning of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The Prime Minister’s statement came after the speaker of parliament and the ruling Georgian Dream party got into a completely inappropriate controversy and set conditions for the Kyiv authorities to send a Georgian delegation to the site of the horrific massacre committed by the Russian occupiers near Kyiv to express their condolences.
On Monday evening, the Georgian Dream outdid itself and issued a new ultimatum to the Ukrainian authorities, one of the points of which was nothing less than the resignation of Georgian officials in Ukraine. Among them is the resignation of David Arakhamia, the leader of the ruling faction, the head of the negotiating group with Russia, and one of the most influential people in the current government of Ukraine!
It is difficult to say whether this is megalomania and a very strong overestimation of the importance of one’s own person, or simply a search for a reason for a new scandal and a breaking of relations.
One gets the impression that the Georgian Dream does not miss the opportunity to once again emphasize as loudly as possible that the Georgian authorities do not support Ukraine in its struggle.
Today, the Georgian Dream is waiting for an apology from a country where civilians are killed every day and which is fighting for its survival. This is outrageous behavior, even considering that the statements of some representatives of the Ukrainian authorities to the Georgian government are sometimes not entirely adequate.
Georgian Dream declares that it already helped Ukraine by voting in the UN – that is, the fact that it did not support aggression and genocide along with 140 or 90 other countries of the world – and expects special gratitude for this.
After the outbreak of war in Ukraine, no one would rebuke Georgia out loud for its cautious position, especially if the government publicly or privately explained it to the Ukrainian authorities.
But such an open, non-diplomatic and rigidly declared position creates the impression that confronting the current Kyiv authorities is a principled and conscious choice of the Georgian Dream.
All this is happening while the world leaders are trying to outdo each other in establishing good relations with the authorities in Kyiv.
One gets the impression that in fact the ruling party has absolutely no empathy for Ukraine, which is fighting Russian aggression.
It seems to them that this conflict is taking place somewhere between Somalia and Eritrea and does not concern Georgia at all, which also suffered from Russian aggression.
Moreover, we have repeatedly heard statements by Garibashvili and many of his fellow party members who openly repeat the messages of Russian propaganda.
- Ukraine is fighting alone and no one is helping it,
- Sanctions against Russia are ineffective,
- Ukraine could not avoid the war, and Ukraine is to blame for what is happening,
- The struggle of Ukraine is doomed to defeat,
- Zelensky left his people for slaughter, while he himself is hiding in a bunker.
Not to mention the frenzied campaign of pro-government social media trolls and “experts” who aim to discredit President Zelensky.
The only reaction of the Georgian government to the genocide in Bucha was: “We told you that it was impossible to fight Russia and you had to avoid it”.
At the same time, the authorities are trying to explain to the public such an immoral attitude by saying that leaving a friendly country in trouble is justified by some “national interests”. Although the current composition of the Georgian Dream hardly has an idea of what it actually means.
It is clear that the war in Ukraine immediately destroyed the myths of the Dream government, on which it has been relying since 2012, namely that Russia is invincible and should not be annoyed once again, the 2008 war is the fault of the former government and it could have been avoided, and the growing economic dependence from Russia is benficial and will lead Georgia to prosperity.
However, could the Georgian government rise above party interests?
We are not talking about patriotism and lofty matters. From a purely pragmatic and rational point of view, the authorities should not have done this.
It is already clear that no capitulation or appeasing policy will save the country from aggression if Russia has such an opportunity.
The only solution now is to show maximum solidarity with Ukraine and talk daily with the West about military assistance and security guarantees.
However, the authorities will not do this for a simple reason – Russia is not an enemy or an aggressor to them, and they do not see it as a threat. This is due to their behavior and reactions. People for whom Russia is an enemy and a threat would not make such statements and would not behave in such away.
But Ukraine is their enemy – it harbors members of the former ruling party of Georgia under Saakashvili, and for a long time Saakashvili himself, and even appointed him to the post. What could be more important than this?
In the 30-year history of independence, Georgia is now faced with an existential threat, with the question of whether the state will cease to exist altogether – for the second time since 2008.
And at the same time, the Georgian authorities not only do not seek consensus in society and do not try to rally it around basic principles, but use an external threat for a cheap internal political campaign to discredit their opponents, whom they refer to as the “war party”.
In general, it is already clear that the Georgian government cannot be a friend of Ukraine and its people. In addition, it does not protect the interests of Georgia and its people either.