Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Thursday announced the group was leaving roles it had held in the Party of European Socialists since 2015, citing an “unacceptable ideological transformation” of the latter and its criticism aimed at GD’s participation in the Conservative Political Action Conference in Budapest last week.
Kobakhidze said PES, where GD has held an observer member status, had voiced criticism of Georgian Dream officials’ participation in the CPAC - where Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili delivered a keynote address - and issued “public threats of reviewing [our] cooperation” without prior communication with the Georgian party.
He also alleged PES had “failed to voice vocal support” for Georgian Dream since 2015 and said members of the European group had “even joined political campaigns designed to support the radical opposition” in Georgia.
"PES threatened us with expulsion due to our respect of God, family and homeland. The Prime Minister featured in the Conference, where this is all that was discussed. The discussion was about how to respect [these] ideas", Kobakhidze said.
When we are threatened with expulsion from the Party for this, we are naturally left with no other option - particularly when these threats are voiced from the TV channel of Kezerashvili, the robber of European pensioners", he added in reference to a BBC investigative report that last month alleged links between the wanted former Defence Minister of Georgia and a transnational fraud scheme.
"From our side, this was a certain necessary step stemming from statements of leaders of this political party. We simply had no other option", the Georgian official said.
In addition, the Georgian party official alleged PES had undergone an “ideological transformation” since 2015, moving away from the “classical social-democratic ideology and into a pseudo-liberal platform that is causing a deepening of the crisis of values in the modern world”.
“This kind of ideological transformation of the Party of European Socialists is unacceptable to us and incompatible with the values and visions of our party, as well as the Georgian public”, Kobakhidze added.
We have decided to leave the status of an observer member of the Party of European Socialists and other unions related to this party, with a written statement set to be sent [...] immediately”, the GD head said, adding his party would cooperate with “all European political parties on equal grounds” to achieve foreign policy goals “set by our country, public and Government”.
On May 4, PES condemned Garibashvili’s CPAC address and said it would consider suspending GD’s status at its next session. PES Vice President Kati Piri on Wednesday told the Georgian-based Formula TV there was unanimity among its political union on the possible exclusion of Georgian Dream from its ranks.