Address by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at  Conservative Political Action Conference

It is the ideal of freedom that has driven Georgia for centuries in its quest to become a full member of the European family of nations – Europe, which is founded on Christian values. As a result of considerable reforms undertaken by our Government, we are closer to that goal today than ever before. Photo via Government Administration, 04 May 2023 - 19:38, Tbilisi,Georgia

Dear Prime Minister Orban, Dear Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great privilege for me to be here, in Hungary, the true heart of Europe and one of its oldest countries, in this charming capital of Budapest. I share with you the admiration for its rich history, and the fight that Hungary has conducted for centuries, to protect Europe and the free world from numerous enemies.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the first conservative conference, where the legendary President Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural speech. For half a century, the movement commenced by the American Conservative Union has been fighting for the strengthening of traditional, supreme values in the world. Indeed, it was exciting for me to be invited to such an important forum. I am very grateful to the leaders and organisers of the conference for this opportunity.

I would like to particularly thank my dear friend, Prime Minister Orbán! In this difficult era, the Hungarian people are very lucky to have such a wise and visionary national leader, who defends the interests of his brave nation and Hungary, stands guarding fundamental values and is truly an exemplary politician (ruler), fighter and striving Christian man.

Today, we have come together to confirm that we stand united in today's most challenging times, and to talk about the values that underpin this unity.

In just a few days, we will celebrate 78th anniversary of the end of the World War II. Almost eighty years have passed since the defeat of the greatest evil in history, fascism. Since then, the humanity as a whole, our countries and nations have gone through a number of difficult times. 

We, like other nations, have gone through difficult periods of fight for freedom, civil wars, occupation, economic collapse, and autocratic regimes. Therefore, we are no strangers to challenges. However, what is happening around the world in recent years is perhaps the most dramatic event in the history since the World War II. The complex economic and humanitarian crisis caused by the pandemic has been further deepened by the ongoing large-scale military conflict on the European continent.

The Russia's invasion of Ukraine started a long war with no end in sight, which affects all of us. Stopping the unjustified human sacrifice, the brutal destruction, requires the greatest collective effort. Even today, as during the World War II, the goal and mission for all of us, the entire humanity, is to secure peace. We must realise that there is no alternative to peace. As we support Ukraine, we must do more to ensure peace talks that result in lasting and stable peace conditions.

You all know that in August 2008 we had a full-scale war with Russia. Our country suffered heavy human losses and 20% of our territory is still occupied by Russia.

We, Georgians, know very well what is the price of peace. Georgia is a small, but strong and freedom-loving nation. However, when necessary, we fight selflessly to protect our freedom, our families, and our homeland. Without going into the entire history, even after gaining independence, we have witnessed several wars in our country. In recent years, our brave soldiers have been protecting global security together with the member countries of the NATO alliance. In Afghanistan, we were the largest per capita contributor to the Resolute Support Mission. 32 brave Georgian soldiers died in this mission, and hundreds were injured. 

Therefore, as we are conscious of what war brings, we do everything for peace. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ teaches - “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. In these difficult times, despite numerous provocations and destabilisation attempts, we managed to ensure peace in our country. In our post-independence history, for the first time during our tenure in power, we have safeguarded the long-term and uninterrupted peace in Georgia.

It is obvious that today the global order is changing. The world will never be the same again and no one can find a way out of this difficult situation alone. We need unity and global consolidation for a new, just order. Only by standing together, we will achieve this goal.

Nevertheless, what gives us the strength to be united? Notably, the traditional, supreme, eternal, universal values that determine our entire history and culture, as well as our everyday life. These values can be easily expressed as follows: faith, freedom, peace, dignity, truth, equality, purity of the family, respect for parents, ancestors and traditions, love of the homeland and of people, and hope for a better future. Ilia II, the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, the wise and most respected person in our country, has summarised all of the aforementioned in the following postulates: God, Homeland, and Human-being.

Essentially, the entire history of Georgia is based on the abovementioned values, which are enshrined in the New Testament. You probably are well aware that our country was one of the first to declare Christianity as the state religion, and around the same time, the New Testament was translated into Georgian in the second half of the 4th century.However, Christianity was preached in Georgia much earlier by the first apostles of Christ. Therefore, our history and culture have been defined by the values of the New Testament for more than two thousand years already. These values have always been the basis of the Georgian identity, uniting our people. Thanks to this very fact the small and ancient country located in the epicentre of the clash of empires and civilizations, survived the consequences of history even in the most difficult geopolitical situations that have destroyed numerous great and powerful empires.  

Undoubtedly, adherence to traditions does not mean that we stand against innovation. Although we must be careful, as we know that evil often comes exactly in the name of innovation. This proved to be true in many cases throughout history, including in the case of fascism. Our Patriarch once stated that “freedom is fought in the name of false freedom”, which is true. No one fights against freedom in the name of slavery, but rather the false freedom. And, no one opposes the truth in the name of fiction, but in the name of false truth. 

How do forces that oppose the freedom and truth try to achieve their goals? Definitely, by destructing the traditional family values and coercing false freedoms – through LGBTQ+ propaganda and attempts to legislate gender-affirming procedures for children – bypassing their parents, as well as by forcing so-called "innovations" that will cut people off from their own roots, family, traditions, culture, and history. They do so because it is easy to control a rootless person - someone who has forgotten his/her history and faith.

Therefore, in such difficult times, our main weapon and foundation is traditional, Christian, conservative, family values. Even today, in the age of inventions – development of technologies and communications, industrial growth, urbanisation, social change and globalisation – we, perhaps more than ever, need the moral principles for guidance built in our traditions and values. It is the desire for renewal, development, and essential progress that requires us to look at all new promises in the light of clear, time-tested criteria and historical values.

Certainly, this does not mean that we go against someone. Our message is simple – nobody’s interests should be limited for the benefit of interests of others. We truly respect the rights of each citizen, which is proved by our actions.

In 2014, in accordance with the requirements of the EU Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, as well as with the sense of responsibility towards our own citizens, we adopted the anti-discrimination law that strictly protects the constitutionally guaranteed rights of our citizens.

However, we also protect the rights of the majority, for whom the family is a union between a man and a woman; where a woman is a mother, and a man is a father. We protect the rights of the vast majority of the population, who supported my initiative in 2014, upon which our political party later included in the Constitution the definition of the marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

The absolute majority of our society shares traditional, conservative, family values. These values are not only the heritage of the past, but also the living present - the environment in which we grew up and want to raise our children. I am the father of four children and along with the vast majority of Georgian parents, I want to raise our future generations on unique values based on Christianity - the same way our parents raised us.

 Therefore, we will protect the rights of all, but just as we will not allow violence against the minority, we will not allow the violence of the minority against the majority. We will not support the minority's attempts to change with aggressive propaganda the values, which the majority of our population considers to be given by God, on which the Georgian identity, uniqueness, and our entire history are based.

We are proud of our history. We are gratified of the fact that back in the 12th century Georgia was ruled by King Tamar, a woman of reason and wisdom, who was not called a queen, but rather a king. It was during her reign that one of the first origins of parliament emerged in the world.

Hence, it is not surprising that after the World War I, the first Georgian republic was the country, which laid the foundations of modern democracy. The 1921 Constitution, one of the most progressive legal documents of the time, was one of the first in the world to give voting rights to women and to ensure the rights of national minorities. Thus, equality and respect for the dignity of others is our tradition.

About the same time, at a very period when everything national was persecuted, Ilia Chavchavadze, a great writer and public figure, one of the main creators of modern Georgia, whom Georgians call the father of the nation, outlined the most important values for every Georgian – Homeland, Language, and Faith.  

Our current Constitution endures on this legacy, on this achievement. It protects and ensures the rights of every individual and, at the same time, recognizes the special role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the history of Georgia, in its development - reinforcing higher and eternal values.

Let me be clear – indeed, majority of the Georgia's population is Orthodox, but our Catholics, Muslims, and Jews, along with our ancestors, had created our great history and are now creating its present. This history of peaceful coexistence and cooperation is very dear to us. Back in the 11th century, our greatest King David the Builder had been visiting the mosque on religious holidays to show his respect for Muslims. By the way, Georgia is a unique country also in a way that Shia and Sunni Muslims, whether Georgians or Azerbaijanis, pray in the same mosque.

In the historic old Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, there is an Orthodox church, an Armenian church, a Catholic church, a mosque and a synagogue next to each other, which shows the historical tolerance in our country.

It must be noted that Jews, who lived in Georgia before Christianity, were never persecuted. The tradition of Georgian-Jewish relations, which goes back 26 centuries, has been given the status of a “monument of intangible cultural heritage”, which represents the greatest recognition of unique friendly coexistence of our nations through centuries.

Hence, tolerance is our unique tradition. And, the threat is not the religion, minorities,or different opinion, but rather those, who are without faith or values, armed with cynicism, often in the name of religion, democracy, and freedom - actually opposing freedom and truth.

It is the ideal of freedom that has driven Georgia for centuries in its quest to become a full member of the European family of nations – Europe, which is founded on Christian values. As a result of considerable reforms undertaken by our Government, we are closer to that goal today than ever before. 

We have made successful efforts in ensuring the rule of law and democracy, economic progress and social justice. Development of state and strengthening of public institutions rightly deserve the recognition of impartial and objective professionals throughout the world. Studies by respected international organisations confirm this.

According to the Rule of Law Index 2022 by the World Justice Project, Georgia ranks first in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We are ahead of many NATO and EU countries on the World Bank Governance Index. We are the leader in the region according to the International Transparency Corruption Perception Index. We are ahead of 11 EU countries on the Heritage Foundation's Economic Freedom Index. Georgia is ranked #1 out of 120 countries in global ranking of State Budget Transparency by International Budget Partnerships’ 2021 Open Budget Survey.

Visa liberalisation, the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union are the achievements of our Government's hard work, and, most recently, the European Perspective granted by the European Union. Here, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank again Prime Minister Orban for recognizing these efforts and for his continued support.

Today, we expect a far-sighted and fair decision from Europe with regards to the EU candidate status. This will be a well-deserved recognition of the joint efforts of our people and the Government.

I want to state once again that Georgia has a rightful place in Europe - Georgia deserves the EU candidate status! Dear Friends, we must all unite during these difficult times. Let’s make our countries a home of peace, stability and prosperity.

Prime Minister Orban joked in his speech in Dallas that Hungary was not really a superpower. Georgia, even a smaller country, has never had such ambitions. And, yet we possess the superpower - this power is our faith, our family traditions, our eternal and universal values. It is by uniting that we will be able to resist the evil that comes in the name of false freedom and false truth, and to protect and preserve the world for our children and future generations with true, traditional, family values.Thank you!