Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigori Karasin says that a Russian delegation will attend the CoE ministerial in Tbilisi in May 2020, which Georgia will be hosting as the Council of Europe chair.
Karasin says that as of now he does not know the composition of the Russian delegation.
The Georgian opposition strongly opposes Russia’s participation in the ministerial, stating that the delegation from the country is very likely to involve individuals who have violated the Georgian Law on the Occupied Territories by visiting the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali without consent from official Tbilisi.
The opposition members warn that the arrival of the Russian delegation may spark a new wave of rallies in Tbilisi, similar to those in June 2019, when people took to the street to protest Russian MP’s action in the Georgian parliament building.
Georgia took over the chairmanship of CoE from France in November 2019 for a six-month term. Photo: cvce.eu.
The opposition and NGOs criticised Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili for her statement made at PACE in January 2020, where she said that Georgia is likely to allow a Russian delegation, including Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, into Georgia during the CoE ministerial.
Zurabishvili said that “making the decision [when Lavrov for instance violated the Georgian Law on the Occupied Territories] is not easy. However, we chair the CoE Committee of Ministers and we respect all our international obligations.”
Former president of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili has stated that though preventing the Russian delegation entering Georgia “will make us feel proud [...] the step may damage our international image.”
Margvelashvili said that Georgia will be hosting the event as a CoE chair country and not as an individual state.
Vice Parliament Speaker from the ruling Georgian Dream party Giorgi Volski says that the “issue will be discussed with our international partners, as it on the one hand concerns the Georgian law and on the other hand our international obligation [as a CoE chair country].”