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President Zurabishvili reproves ruling party over quitting EU-brokered agreement

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, August 5
The annulment of the April 19 agreement mediated by the President of Council of Europe by the ruling party was assessed by the President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili at a briefing held at the Orbeliani Palace. The President openly stated that she did not agree with the representatives of the Georgian Dream. In a lengthy speech, delivered amid intensifying election campaigns from parties and accompanying rhetoric as well as sharply increased rates of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, president appealed to common citizens as well as political forces about a critical point for the society.

“To be respected, and I am deeply convinced that Georgia deserves it through its past, we must respect ourselves and our word,” she said.

The President stressed the importance of EU participation in the process:

“I consider and even told the representatives of the ruling party that the process of preparing the document was extremely positive, because the involvement of the President of the European Council and today one of the main political figures in the processes of Georgia, the Caucasus and the EU's neighborhood is very important. This is a bridge between us and Europe. We must understand it, appreciate it, use it and take care of it."

As Zurabishvili notes, she can not take responsibility for the cancellation of the document nor the certain elements of the document, which were agreed between the parties and can not be annulled.

“However, the post-factum ‘discovery’ that it turns out we gave up something unacceptable and that might harm the country, is incomprehensible. In my experience, red lines are crossed before signing. I believe that the process behind this document, the goals that this document pursues and the principles on which this document is based on are not exhaustive and represent the path that this country must go through and that I support,” she stated.

The president also spoke of ‘the responsible attitude of the parties that entered Parliament based on this agreement’ - meaning the opposition that had left the lawmaking body after the October 2020 parliamentary elections with claims of fraud - adding the agreement had shifted political processes from the street protests and back into the parliament.

She disagreed with the ruling party's assessment that polarization has not been reduced, which explains the cancellation of the document. Zurabishvili stressed that the document lived up to the expectations, as the political crisis is over, a multi-party Parliament has been formed and the political process has shifted from the street to Parliament. She also hailed the new election code adopted as per the deal and expressed hopes that the agreement will hold on lowering the election threshold. According to her, the document reduces polarization, weakens it and this process will continue despite everything. “This is the only way to strengthen the stability and independence chosen by the society of our country.”

She also emphasized that patriotism extends to political viewpoints, and that politicians should avoid engaging in a ‘campaign of deliberate undermining’ of the nation to achieve the party's goals.

The president stated that the upcoming municipal vote across Georgia, confirmed by her for October 2 will need to prove ‘exemplary’ without accompanying violent acts and rhetoric, abuse of personal data for discrediting opponents or interference with the media.

Skeptics of vaccination should examine “conduct (that) is not a question of personal choice nor of freedom of speech,” Zurabishvili said, adding that ‘true patriotism’ would be found in 'courage’ for vaccination and ‘a feeling of duty as members of society.’

Recall that on July 28, the Georgian Dream annulled the April 19 agreement with part of the opposition initiated by European Council President Charles Michel. The ruling party explained the decision by saying that the main goal of the agreement was to reduce polarization and radicalization, which failed and vice versa, and that the main opposition party, the National Movement, did not join the agreement.