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Resolution of Ukraine — Watershed Between the Government and the Opposition

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Thursday, February 3, 2022
A joint resolution in support of Ukraine could not be reached in the Georgian Parliament. The draft resolution registered by the Georgian Dream turned out to be unacceptable to the opposition, as it did not mention Russia, aggression, or occupation at all. Unfortunately, there was no issue in Georgian politics on which the government and the opposition would have a common position.

However, Ukraine is a strategic partner of Georgia, and deterrence of Russian aggression is important for both countries. Russia's victory in Ukraine deprives Georgia, like other post-Soviet countries, of a chance to escape Russia's neo-imperial plans.

Russia's possible attack on Ukraine has been in the media spotlight for several months. Possible war scenarios are considered. In this situation, many countries have openly expressed their support for Ukraine. In the current situation, the silence of the Georgian government, which said virtually nothing about supporting a strategic partner, is very noticeable.

This causes resentment inside the country and surprise among foreign friends. For example, former US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly told RFE / RL that “a dizzy Tbilisi is a disappointing sight for any friend of Georgia” and that Georgia's passivity is ‘disappointing’.

According to him, it is hard to believe that the Prime Minister or the President of Georgia has not yet shown open support for Kyiv. Former President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili agrees with this opinion, stating that Ukraine's support is a ‘test of dignity’ for Georgia. “At least support Ukraine and call Putin an aggressor, then - impose sanctions, even better - send weapons,” said Margvelashvili.

The government's policy towards Ukraine has been criticized by much of the opposition. According to Giorgi Vashadze, the leader of ‘Strategy Builder’, this position “poses a great threat to Georgia.” Georgian experts and opposition politicians believe that the threat to Ukraine directly affects Georgia’s security.

According to the opponents of the government, the Georgian officials should work in an emergency mode and clearly express their support for Ukraine. According to them, Georgia’s strategic interest is to stand firmly by Ukraine now, because if Ukraine ‘loses’, Georgia will face the same problems as it did in 2008.

The third president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, says that in case of aggression against Ukraine, Putin will invade Georgia as well. According to Saakashvili, as soon as the aggression in Ukraine begins, Putin will occupy Anaklia and Poti and invade Samegrelo to “block the West from using our ports now and building the Anaklia / Lazika port in the future.”

In the conditions of passivity of the government, the opposition has become especially active in recent days. Leaders of several opposition parties (National Movement, Lelo, Strategy Builder) met with the Ambassador of Ukraine to Georgia, and the opposition came up with several initiatives:

The parliament passed a multi-party resolution in support of Ukraine, a parliamentary delegation consisting of representatives of the government and the opposition arrived in Kyiv, as well as the Prime Minister of Georgia, who has not said anything to support Ukraine, which is facing a crisis.

The first step in this direction seemed to have been successful. On January 26, the Georgian Dream presented a draft parliamentary resolution on a possible military escalation in Ukraine, which, with some remarks, was acceptable to the opposition. But suddenly, as representatives of the opposition said, before the second round of talks, the mention of Russian aggression disappeared from the draft resolution.

The resolution of the ‘Georgian Dream’ protects Ukraine, so it does not mention who is threatening Ukraine, it is only about “not allowing war in Ukraine in general.” The text was unacceptable to the opposition and they refused to support it.

According to Mamuka Mdinaradze, one of the leaders of the ruling party, "the resolution is completely devoid of provocative and populist rhetoric" and "every word, every phrase stems from the national interests of Georgia." According to the representatives of the opposition, they consider it necessary to call everything by its name and should directly say that Ukraine is threatened by Russian aggression.

The Georgian government, in the end, did not dare to say that. However, this was not ruled out at first.

“Georgia today has a government that is not cautious, it is engaged in vassal politics,” Nino Burjanadze said. The opposition also notes that such a change in the draft resolution of the ‘Georgian Dream’ could be made only by one man, who has officially left politics.

The opposition is talking about future plans. Due to the number of votes in parliament, the opposition will not be able to pass its version of the resolution. They may make a joint statement and thus break away from the Georgian Dream resolution, which they consider to be ‘damaging’ to the country’s reputation.

It seems that the Georgian Dream will adopt its resolution alone at the spring parliamentary session. The situation in Ukraine may be somewhat calmed by this time. However, what is happening today in connection with the developments around Ukraine is a peculiar test for both countries and parties and individual politicians.