Ruling party head rejects “false” premise in CNN question to EU leader on sanctioned goods export through Georgia

  • In a social media post, Kobakhidze said the question directed to von der Leyen last week had been based on “false information”. Photo: Georgian Dream Press Office, 23 Jan 2023 - 11:47, Tbilisi,Georgia

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Monday rejected the “false” premise in a CNN reporter’s question to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on an alleged export of sanctioned goods to Russia through Georgia.

In a social media post, Kobakhidze said the question directed to von der Leyen last week had been based on “false information”.

In particular, the reporter cited reports about imports of sanctioned goods to Russia through different countries, and especially Georgia, and asked whether the next package of EU sanctions would solve this problem”, the Georgian official noted. 

Kobakhidze said given CNN was “not an ordinary media” outlet, the question “clearly showed” the scale of the alleged “coordination directed against the national interests” of Georgia, in reference to Georgian authorities’ accusations of an existing organised campaign involving domestic and international participants with allegations of exports of sanctioned goods to Russia from the country.

He also said the “false information” voiced by the CNN reporter required an “immediate response”.

In his rejection of the premise in the question, the ruling party official said figures for export of goods from Georgia to Russia would have had to “increase disproportionately” throughout the past year for the allegation of sanctioned cargo being delivered to the country to be valid.

In 2022, compared to 2021, the growth of Georgia's total exports amounted to 33 percent, while in the same period, exports to Russia increased by only seven percent. During the same period, exports from Georgia to China increased by 20 percent, to Azerbaijan by 27 percent, to Turkey by 35 percent, to the United States by 36 percent, to Bulgaria by 67 percent, to Armenia by 129 percent, and to Kazakhstan by 148 percent”, he noted. 

“The share of exports to Russia in the total exports of Georgia in 2022 not only did not increase, but significantly decreased, which unmistakably confirms the falsity of the information spread by the CNN journalist”, Kobakhidze continued.

The official added the goods exported from Georgia to Russia had made up only 0,3 percent of Russia's total imports in 2022.

“On this backdrop, when specific foreign media outlets claim that Russia is feeding itself with goods imported from Georgia, it is, to put it mildly, a very big lie”, Kobakhidze stressed.

He also noted that while the European Union criticised Georgia for maintaining trade relations with Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, countries of the bloc “paid Russia hundreds of millions of euros in imported goods every day”.

When influential foreign media spread lies of this scale directed against the Georgian state, this is a problem. However, it is a bigger problem when the same lies are circulated by the domestic radical opposition and its media outlets”, he pointed out.

“This fact confirms once again that for these people, the national interests of Georgia mean nothing, and in fact, they are not at the service of Georgia, but at the service of a force hostile to it”, the party Chair noted and added it was also “unfortunate” that Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili had also been “dragged into spreading this lie”.