Parliament Speaker calls for “well-deserved” NATO, EU membership from west instead of “undue criticism”

Shalva Papuashvili said “for over 15 years now, the ball has been on the Western side, [in] both EU and NATO courts”. Photo: Parliament press office, 31 May 2023 - 15:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

Shalva Papuashvili, the Georgian Parliament Speaker, on Tuesday urged the country’s Western partners to help Tbilisi overcome its “security predicament” and get its “well-deserved” membership in the European Union and NATO, instead of offering “undue criticism” on its alleged strengthening of ties with the Kremlin on the backdrop of the latter’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

The official’s social media post came following remarks by the country’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at the Global Security Forum in Bratislava on Tuesday, where he alleged Ukraine’s “will and determination” to join NATO, along with “other reasons”, had led to its ongoing conflict with Russia. 

The PM’s comments led to criticism by domestic opposition groups and some foreign officials, with Papuashvili responding to them by claiming they had offered “largely mistaken or deliberately distorted interpretations” of Garibashvili’s remarks. 

I believe Georgia has the right to have a say when it comes to regional and international security, and the PM’s words should be understood properly”, Papuashvili said, adding Tbilisi had the right to “question the duplicity of some of our friends’ and critics’ attitudes, because many times now, Georgia has been subjected to unfair, almost hypocritical treatment”. 

He said Georgia’s independence and security had been jeopardised first by “Russian-incited separatism” since the country regaining its independence in the early 1990s, and then by the outright Russian invasion in 2008. The Parliament official added the war had been followed by installation of illegal barriers by Russian-controlled occupation forces, kidnapping of Georgian citizens, and creeping annexation of Georgian territories.

Ever since, Georgia practised strategic patience, as implied by our Western friends’ advice. We did our utmost to be resilient, but also to be security providers and help strengthen international security”, Papuashvili said, and noted under Garibashvili’s leadership the country had contributed the largest per capita military personnel for NATO peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.