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Georgian President calls on political forces for de-escalation

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, July 10
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has made a statement regarding the recent developments in Georgia, calling on all the political parties for de-escalation and mutual work for the prosperity of the country.

“As a guarantor and defender of human rights, speech, and expression, I once again remind you that freedom is inseparable from responsibility. Responsibility towards the country requires that we leave emotions and political taste to maintain public peace and stability in the country. We should not allow certain forces to try to discredit Georgia outside and destabilize the country with certain provocations. I want to call on everyone inside and outside for de-escalation,” she said at a special briefing on Tuesday.

Zurabishvili stressed that patriotism does not mean discrediting and destabilizing the country.

“I appeal to those who, under the flag of patriotism, carry out irresponsible actions and make statements that inflict damage to our citizens and their economic well-being. Patriotism is to care for the citizens, not the contrary,” she said.

The president also addressed the Russian authorities, asking not to follow escalation.

“I address the Russian leadership: do not follow the escalation. It will be a paradox if the neighboring country [Russia] will respond to provocative action, as they say from “radical” forces, thus contributing to destructive goals. It should also be emphasized that our peaceful policy is the only way to maintain stability in the country and the region,” she added.

Moreover, the President addressed Georgian citizens, living in Russia, saying she is their president and the Georgian government does its best to ensure they live in Russia peacefully.

When commenting on the claims [from Russia] that Georgia is not a safe country for tourists and guests, Zurabishvili said from ancient times the hospitality of Georgian people has been known to everyone.

“Even in the tense times, there has never been even one incident that foreign citizens or guests living in the country were under risk and this will be like this in the future too,” she stressed.

Zurabishvili also talked about the introduction of the proportional election system from 2020 with zero thresholds, which was suggested by the government after June 20-21 large-scale protests, saying this is a change for all political parties to get into the parliament.

“I urge all of you to voice your demands for the peaceful elections and wait for the public response. I have repeatedly requested you to reconcile. Recently, I have offered all the forces to use the presidential dialogue platform. This offer is valid for everyone who wants to move forward and stabilize the country,” she underlined.

To note, there have been rallies in Georgia since June 20, when it was dispersed by the police and left around 300 people were injured and 240 arrested. The protesters have been asking the resignation of the interior minister.

However, in addition to this, the situation escalated early this week, when the TV anchor of opposition-minded Rustavi 2 TV, Giorgi Gabunia used offensive language in Russian against Vladimir Putin and insulted graves of his parents. This resulted in another protest rally in front of the TV station headquarters with the participation of the broadcaster’s number of employees, who quit the job and distanced themselves from Gabunia’s hate speech.

In addition to this, there were held two different protests rallies in the center of Tbilisi - anti-occupation activists on one hand and anti-LGBT hate group on the other – which caused tensions on Rustaveli Avenue. Meanwhile, up to 40 activists and supporters of Tbilisi Pride held the first ever impromptu march in front of the Interior Ministry on the evening of July 8, also demanding Interior Minister’s resignation.