Georgian government describes rapprochement with Russia as ‘strategic policy of patience’

29 May, 07:35 PM
Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili during a speech on Georgia's Independence Day in Tbilisi, where Salome Zurabishvili criticized the government (Photo:საქართველოს პარლამენტი/Facebook)

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili during a speech on Georgia's Independence Day in Tbilisi, where Salome Zurabishvili criticized the government (Photo:საქართველოს პარლამენტი/Facebook)

The Georgian government had responded to criticism from the country’s president, Salome Zourabichvili, who has accused the ruling elite of drawing Georgia closer to Russia.

The government is pursuing a “strategic policy of patience” towards Russia and claimed that there can be no talk of Moscow making any principled concessions, Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, stated in an interview with Georgian publication Kviris Palitra on May 29.

“We are not engaged in a policy of conceding to Russia. Instead, our approach is based on a strategic policy of patience,” said Papuashvili.

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He further highlighted that the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity can only be achieved “within the framework of a peaceful policy.”

He also acknowledged that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s recent decisions to introduce a visa-free regime for Georgians and resume flights were driven by “political motivation.”

“We are striving to avoid provocations and various threats, particularly those coming from Russia. We do not engage in concessions or bargaining,” said Papuashvili.

“Our main goal is the unification of the country and European integration. To achieve these objectives, peace and economic progress are imperative.”

“Without economic strength and with internal conflicts, we cannot unify our country, and the doors of European institutions will remain closed to us. A poor and weakened nation does not garner the interest of Abkhazians, Ossetians, or Western partners,” Papuashvili emphasized.

In response to Zourabichvili’s criticism, the ruling party Georgian Dream issued a statement during a meeting of its political council. They expressed that the president had “taken the wrong path,” but further escalation of confrontation is deemed unacceptable, according to Georgian newspaper Novosti Georgia.

“The recent actions of President Salome Zourabichvili are characterized by extreme bias and political prejudice,” the statement said.

The party asserts that they supported Zourabichvili during the 2018 presidential elections, hoping that she would fulfill the role of a non-partisan president.

“However, unfortunately, Ms. Salome Zourabichvili took a different path and over the past two years has clearly demonstrated political bias in favor of the radical opposition forces,” they said.

During the meeting, the party emphasized their decision not to engage in a polemic with Zourabichvili and expressed their intention to “defend the institution of the presidency.”

Zourabichvili criticized the government’s approach towards Russia during a ceremony held on the country’s Independence Day on May 26. In her speech, she remarked that the authorities do not consider the “honor and dignity of citizens.”

Her speech was repeatedly interrupted by heckling from the government podium, where Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili was seated.

Amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and its war crimes against civilians, the government in Tbilisi is expanding its cooperation with Russia. Despite maintaining a neutral stance since the start of Russia’s invasion, Georgia has refrained from imposing sanctions on the Kremlin regime or providing military assistance to Kyiv.

However, the country has offered humanitarian support and welcomed Ukrainian refugees.

Meanwhile, Georgia has experienced a significant influx of Russians since Russia’s announcement of mobilization in September 2022.

On May 10, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin unexpectedly lifted the visa regime for Georgian citizens and allowed direct flights to the country.

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili referred to the cancellation of the longstanding visa regime and the resumption of air travel by Russia as a provocation.

PM Irakli Garibashvili expressed a positive view of Putin’s statement on lifting visas for Georgians and resuming flights.

Protests were sparked when the first plane from Moscow landed in Tbilisi on May 19.

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