Ruling party official claims “radical” opposition working to prevent EU candidate status for Georgia

  • Kobakhidze added the five opposition MPs who supported the candidates for the Council proved to be “exceptions” in the voting. Photo: Georgian Dream Press Office, 18 May 2023 - 17:17, Tbilisi,Georgia

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Thursday claimed the domestic “radical” opposition was “doing everything” to prevent the country from receiving the European Union membership candidate status. 

Kobakhidze was commenting after some opposition MPs left a Parliament session on Wednesday that registered votes on candidates for the High Council of Justice, after learning that several opposition members had joined the ruling party’s support for the nominees.

The parliamentary majority was fully mobilised to elect the members of the High Council of Justice, and fulfil one of the 12 conditions [set by the EU], [but] the opposition had a fundamentally different attitude to this issue - they did not support any candidate”, Kobakhidze said.

Kobakhidze added the five opposition MPs who supported the candidates for the Council proved to be “exceptions” in the voting.

The bullying campaign against the MPs who supported the members of the High Council of Justice became public. This once again shows the face of the radical opposition. They are doing everything to ensure the country does not receive the status of a [EU membership] candidate, and [...] bullying [and] liberal fascism [...] is their signature”, the ruling party official noted.

A majority of opposition lawmakers left the session in protest shortly after they learned three of the 29 candidates nominated for the Council had received necessary votes with the support of the opposition lawmakers.

Four MPs in the United National Movement parliamentary faction - the largest opposition in Georgia’s lawmaking body - left the group after their votes for three new, non-judge members in the Council.

Lawmakers Nato Chkheidze, Rostom Chkheidze, Bachuki Kardava and Nikoloz Machutadze announced their decision of leaving UNM following allegations from their colleagues on alleged “alliance and confidential agreement” with the ruling Georgian Dream party in their backing of the “biased candidates”.

The MPs were also accused of their votes serving to “strengthen” an alleged “clan” in the judiciary system, which the domestic opposition and some civil organisations have claimed is affiliated with the Government.

The election of the non-judge members in the 15-member Council - an independent body selecting and appointing judges across the country - required votes by 90 MPs in the 150-member legislative body. GD currently holds 84 seats, including the party’s former members who still remain in the parliamentary majority.

The four opposition MPs confirmed to the media on Wednesday they had voted for the candidates, and said it had been caused by “miscommunication” with UNM party leadership.