PM slams “internal hostile forces” as “most harmful” to national interests in comments at Parliament

PM Irakli Garibashvili on Friday accused the part of the domestic opposition of lobbying against national interests. Photo: Government press office, 30 Jun 2023 - 15:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Friday told the Parliament “internal hostile forces had “harmed the national interests most” over the past three decades, in comments that alleged “betrayal” of the country by the former United National Movement Government and said some of the domestic opposition was lobbying for Georgia not to be granted the European Union membership candidate status.

Pointing to the “radical and destructive” UNM opposition party, the head of the Government accused the Government it formed between 2004-2012 of “betrayal” and “handover” of the country’s territories to Russia in the 2008 conflict between the two countries. 

Claiming he had knowledge of “many steps” taken by UNM in power from his spells as the Minister of Interior and Minister of Defence in the subsequent Georgian Dream Government over the years, the PM claimed he could not reveal details of the unspecified actions due to “interests of the country”, but alleged the former Government had committed “betrayal of the country - and not mistakes” during its time in office. 

He also said the party then continued its “hostile efforts” while in the opposition through a “fake, damaging campaign” which he said had attempted to portray their former leader and imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili as a victim of torture and inhumane treatment after his arrest in Tbilisi in October 2021.

Garibashvili added the “anti-state campaign” also included lobbying against Georgia obtaining the European Union membership candidate status after Tbilisi officially applied for the bloc’s membership in March 2022. 

Our European colleagues have told us concrete facts when representatives of our irresponsible opposition have requested them not to grant the country the status”, Garibashvili told MPs.

In comments about Zurab Japaridze, the leader of the Girchi - More Freedom opposition party, the official accused him of “staging provocations” along the administrative line separating the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region from the rest of the country and “misleading the youth” in “camps”, where he claimed the party was “giving lectures to people about use of arms”.

He also criticised Japaridze for a 2017 scheme that enabled those called for compulsory military service to evade it by obtaining a religious title from an organisation launched by the party, adding the country’s new defence code would address the legal loophole.