Parliament Speaker: ambassadors in Georgia “only represent people of their countries”

The Parliament official said the rally had “mainly consisted of activists” of the opposition United National Movement party. Photo: Parliament of Georgia, 01 Aug 2023 - 17:18, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Tuesday said citizens of the country “do not need a guardian”, in a comment that followed a remark by the United States Ambassador Kelly Degnan on protests in the Black Sea city of Batumi on Monday against the arrival of a cruise ship that carried Russian citizens and originated in Sochi.

Papuashvili was responding to Degnan’s comment on Monday, in which the diplomat said “no one should expect Georgians to welcome people from a country that occupies 20 percent of Georgia's territory”, after Georgian law enforcement arrested 23 individuals at the protest.

The Parliament official said the rally had “mainly consisted of activists” of the opposition United National Movement party.

There were 100-200 people at that rally, which does not represent the mood in the public. It is a manipulation when it is [represented] as the will of citizens. The US Ambassador said it was the will of [Georgian] citizens that Russian tourists should not enter either by sea or by land. Saying this [based on a 150-person rally] is common manipulation”, Papuashvili said. 

The chief Georgian legislator also claimed foreign diplomats “speak[ing] on behalf of Georgian citizens” was “dangerous”. 

Georgian citizens do not need a guardian, especially foreign guardianship. Ambassadors, if they represent anyone, it is only the people of their own country, and if they are protecting anyone's interest, it is only the interest of their own people”, he noted.

“Protecting and representing interests of Georgian citizens is not the task of an ambassador of a foreign country. Therefore, it is a rather negative trend when we have facts of a representative of a foreign country speaking on behalf of Georgian citizens”, Papuashvili continued. 

The Parliament Speaker further stressed Georgian citizens had elected their representatives through democratic elections, with the resulting Government acting “in the interests of its citizens”.

He also called the controversy around the arrival of the vessel a “very good example for assessing the hysteria artificially created by the United National Movement party and their foreign patrons”, adding the developments “should not be encouraged” on the backdrop of calls for reducing the polarisation of the domestic political scene.