Georgian President: polarisation can end if parties return to solve real problems, challenges

In today's news briefing President Salome Zurabishvili has spoken about the Covid-19 pandemic and need for vaccination, the recent municipal elections and the appointment of new judge members of the High Council of Justice, as well as ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili's conditions at the detention facility. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 04 Nov 2021 - 00:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, who spoke of a wide range of issues at a news briefing earlier today, said that polarisation in Georgia can be overcome only if the parties, both the ruling party and the opposition, return to solving real problems and challenges.

On her own question how can the existing polarisation end, she has responded that this is achievable only without street rallies, destabilisation, calls for new elections, resignations or boycotts, hatred, seeking of enemies and traitors, refusal to recognise the winner, and humiliating those who lost.

What do we do? How do we get to the end-goal, how do we get out of this endless circle? In fact, the elections gave us the opportunity to start from the bottom-up, where it is easier to start cooperating on issues that are aimed at solving local problems of citizens. This is and should have been the meaning and purpose of the local elections", Salome Zurabishvili said, calling on everyone for unification and joint work for achieving goals ‘that bring us together’.

Municipal election results

Stating that the recent municipal elections were peaceful 'despite an unprecedented polarisation and the use of hate speech', President Zurabishvili congratulated the newly-elected local council members and mayors wishing them success in their service to the country.

The elections went smoothly, one might say, because the number of incidents was unprecedentedly low. Elections were conducted freely, with significantly improved results for the opposition, directly related to the free expression of the will of the electorate. Also, reducing the gap in the results of the candidates is typical for democratic elections", she said. 

However, Zurabishvili noted that as the elections are over now ‘the country needs calmness and stability to get back on the path of development’. 

Peace to society, transition from political confrontation to action. On the one hand, let’s concentrate on the main issues that no force alone can overcome, and on the other hand, end destabilization attempts, because destabilization only benefits external forces", President Zurabishvili said. 

Covid-19 pandemic

In her news briefing Salome Zurabishvili has called for a more active vaccination campaign and more courage. She however said ‘the responsibility also rests with the parties conducting demonstrations despite regulations and precautions’.

The responsibility is great for the Patriarchate, which still refrains from giving its blessing and allows individual clergy members to preach anti-vaccine propaganda. The responsibility lies with some members of the medical field, whose views hurt the common cause. Finally, it is the responsibility of our citizens who, out of personal fears, are putting the country in front of a demographic catastrophe”, she stated. 

Calling on the Georgian authorities ‘to take urgent and strict measures’ President Zurabishvili suggested compulsory vaccination for risk groups, introduction of a Covid-19 passport to enter public spaces and charging the treatment for unvaccinated individuals. 

I oppose, and moreover, find it unacceptable to return to the restriction of economic activities and lockdowns. It is unacceptable, because it will hurt the country's economy and, first of all, the part of the population that is already facing the worst social challenges», Salome Zurabishvili said. 

 The Georgian President has meanwhile noted that while the government is satisfied with the ‘unprecedented rates of economic growth’ citizens are experiencing ‘a sharp deterioration in conditions’.

Nevertheless, she said 'neither the development of local self-government, nor overcoming the current economic crisis are in the political parties’ top priorities’.

Appointment of two judge members of the High Council of Justice

President Zurabishvii also said in her speech that Georgia’s European aspirations remain ‘our common, nonpartisan challenge’ and that based on’ our stated goals, we are obliged to take timely and serious steps on the path to Europe, which is what our partners expect from us’.

In this regard, the election of two new members to the High Council of Justice in this form and at this time is an incomprehensible step, especially when we know what a symbolic place the High Council of Justice occupies in the continuation of future judicial reform, how much attention is paid to its composition, if not its impartiality", she said. 

The European Union Delegation and the United States Embssies have expressed their concern for the recent appointments of two new judge members to the High Council of Justice. 

Head of EU Delegation Carl Hartzell said these appointments, which took place on the day after the municipal elections, were ‘at odds with Georgia’s commitments aimed at increasing the independence, accountability, quality and trust in the judiciary’.

The US Embassy has also stated that the selection of two new members to the High Council of Justice on October 31 was ‘neither competitive nor transparent’.