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Go home — to Europe. Georgians are asking the government to resign after failing to obtain EU candidate status.Report of Medusa from Tbilisi

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European march in Tbilisi. June 24, 2022

In mid-June, the European Commission voted against Georgia’s recommendation to acquire EU candidate status and recommended that it be given a “European perspective” instead. Now, if Georgia wants to join the EU, it needs to take certain steps to strengthen democracy, according to the EU. After the announcement, protesters from the Sirtskhvilia (“shame”) movement in Georgia led thousands of people to Europe in a rally they called “homecoming.” Another rally followed the European Parliament’s official refusal to give the country EU status. At that time, protesters demanded the government’s resignation and gave them an ultimatum.

On June 3, 2022, Georgia’s Prime Minister Iraqi Garibashibiri announced that the country had completed its “homework”. conditions For EU member states — and now awaiting the European Commission’s decision. Georgia began applying for EU candidate countries on March 3, just one week after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and completed the required questionnaire by May 10. .. It was then the Commission’s responsibility to evaluate the responses and decide whether to recommend that the European Council grant Georgia candidate status. In that case, you can start accession negotiations.

George Mchedlishvili, a professor of international affairs at the European University of Tbilisi, said Georgia is more advanced than both Ukraine and Moldova in terms of economic reform, but the process has declined in recent years and freedom of speech has begun to decline. Stated.

According to Mchedlishvili, one sign of this decline was the conviction of politician and businessman Nika Gvaramia. On May 16, Gvaramia, a former general director of Georgia’s opposition television network Mtavari Arkhi, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for abuse of power while leading a private company. The accusations arose from his time as head of another opposition channel, Rustavi 2, which he led from 2016 to 2019.

Guvaramia’s ruling sparked a heated debate in Georgia.Less than a month after being convicted, the EU announced on June 8th. resolution About Georgia’s “Media Freedom and Journalist Security Violations”. In addition to Guvaramia and Saakashvili, the resolution referred to the attack on journalists that occurred on July 5, 2021. That day, more than 50 people, most of whom worked in the media, were attacked by a far-right group protesting homosexuals. Pride march. Alexander Lashkarava, a cameraman on TV channel Pirveli, died five days after the attack and broke his face. At that time, journalists reported that the presumed cause of death was thromboembolism due to injury.Later Georgian Ministry of Interior Claim Lashkarava’s death was caused by an overdose of drugs.

The EU has condemned the events of Georgia’s billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who led the party Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia until 2021.Part of the resolution read:

The European Parliament has expressed concern about the role played by Oligarch’s Vizina Ivanishvili in Georgian politics, especially the continuing tendency to appoint his close ex-colleagues to the highest positions in the country, which has led him to the government. That decision, including a decision on politically motivated persecution of journalists in favor of the opposition, which maintains a high level of control over.

[…] Therefore, the European Parliament has urged the Council to consider imposing personal sanctions on Mr. Ivanishvili as the person directly responsible for the current setback in the field of media freedom.

Last year, 66-year-old Ivanishvili announced his resignation from politics because of his age. However, as Nodar Rukhadze, one of the founders of the Sirtskhvilia movement, explained to Medusa, Ivanishvili continues to exert influence over the country through his close friends. For example, the current Foreign Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri has held a personal position in Ivanishvili for many years. bodyguardZurab Azarashvili, Minister of Health management A branch of his bank, Prosecutor General Shalva Tadumadze previously worked as his lawyer.

Vizina Ivanishvili

“Visina Ivanishvili is a Russian oligarch. He has built all his fortune in Russia. His primary goal is to protect his wealth and keep him out of control. He has that goal. I understand that the only way to achieve this is to stay in Georgia and stay in the political course he is doing, “says Lucaze.

2011, Ivanishvili publication He sold his Russian business and abandoned Russian citizenship. In late April 2022, Transparency International’s Georgian office Investigation It was discovered that Ivanishvili continued to manage his business in Russia through offshore accounts, relatives, and representatives. The authors conclude that Georgia’s “internal security” and domestic politics are “threatening” due to Ivanishvili’s actions.

June 17, European Commission statement Ukraine and Moldova do not meet the requirements to join the union, so it is recommended to grant EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, but not to Georgia.

George Mededrichvili told Medusa that the EU’s decision was not based on Nika Gvaramia’s imprisonment or the July 5, 2021 case, and not on the loss of public confidence in the Georgian government. According to him, in recent years Georgia has experienced a “small setback” in terms of democracy, political pluralism, and independent institutions. Nepotism, voting purchases, and embezzlement are all on the rise.

On the day the EU resolution was announced, the Sirtskhvilia movement announced a rally and march in support of EU accession in the heart of Tbilisi. The ruling party declared the opposition’s actions “destructive” and claimed that it would “lead to social polarization.”

“Follow the Russian warship”

On the night of June 20, 30-50 people gathered outside the Parliament of Georgia in the center of Tbilisi. They were raising the flags of Georgia and the EU. Many activists in the crowd handed out small signs that said, “We are Europe.” The national anthem of Europe was followed by the national anthem of Ukraine, followed by the national anthem of Georgia. The big screen in the middle of the square alternated with the flags of EU, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

Tbilisi protesters. June 20, 2022

“”Sulkan Saba, Ilia Chavchavaze, Nico NicolaseWhen Vazha-PshavelaHero of April 9th, And the heroes fighting for our freedom in Ukraine … Today, the oligarch Ivanishvili confronts them and steps into the door we want to go through, the European door, where he keeps us out. I stabbed it! Georgian writer Lasha Bugadze Said from the stage.

Dozens of protesters showed signs of anti-Ivanishvili, many showing oligarchs next to Vladimirputin.Some of them said, “I am European. [Ivanishvili can] Follow Russian warships. “

Some of the protesters wore T-shirts stating “Russia occupies 20% of my country” and had maps showing Abkhazia and South Osetia. Some have put up signs in Georgia calling for greater freedom of the press, such as those that say “the media is under attack.”

Tbilisi protesters. June 20, 2022

Towards the end of the rally, activists announced the creation of a new movement, called Return to Europe, aimed at ensuring that Georgia meets the EU’s accession requirements. The rally ended with a march through Tbilisi, and protesters chanted “Longevity Georgia!” And “Fuck Putin!”

“Come — we will help you!”

Three days later, the European Parliament voted 529:45 in favor of granting the status of candidates for Ukraine and Moldova “without delay”. Perhaps the same will be done in Georgia — shortly after the country meets the conditions set by the European Commission.

The Sirtskhvilia movement soon announced another rally in support of European integration. This time, the protester, Numbered Among the tens of thousands, we have presented a clear list of requests to the authorities, including:

  • The resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili led to Georgia’s failure to qualify as an EU candidate due to government actions.
  • Formation of a new government. Its members are elected by general consensus and promise to achieve the 12 points of the EU-mediated agreement.

Protesters gave authorities a week to meet their demands. If the government refused, they promised to lead a civil disobedience campaign.

Georgians and Ukraine War

“The June 20 rally was the largest in Tbilisi’s history, it was directed to the European Commission, not the government,” Nodar Lucaze told Medusa. “But on June 24, unlike Moldova and Ukraine, Georgia received a negative response, and that day we demanded the resignation of the government. The Ivanishvili administration, Russia’s Oligalhi, we I don’t think that will implement all the reforms necessary to join the EU. “

On June 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed protesters in Georgia as follows:

I want everyone to listen today. We are free people, free nations, and it will never change. […] We never give up because Abkhazia and South Ossetia are yours, as Donbas and Crimea are our lands. If someone wants to forget it, if someone wants to remove it from the record, we always remind them. We are standing with you. […] Yesterday Ukraine received EU membership candidate status. You are on that path. Come — we will help you! Ukraine and Georgia together, forever! Glory to Georgia, glory to Ukraine!

The next day, Nika Melia, chairman of the United National Movement publication Formation of a temporary “National Unity Government”. This does not include current politicians and civil activists, he said. The protesters’ vision is that the new government will consist of people who are considered experts in their respective fields, and its main goal is to meet EU accession requirements if the current government resigns.

Representatives of the ruling party of the country have not responded to the demands of protesters.

Talk To Gleb GorodoReport from Tbilisi.

Summary translation by Sam Breeze Ale

https://meduza.io/en/feature/2022/06/29/going-home-to-europe Go home — to Europe. Georgians are asking the government to resign after failing to obtain EU candidate status.Report of Medusa from Tbilisi

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