First of all, thank you for organising this panel discussion. It is a very good initiative and historic meeting, as you mentioned, when three leaders of the South Caucasus get together. I think it is already a successful meeting and thank you for organising this discussion. When it comes to the war in Ukraine, of course, this is a big challenge for all of us. It was announced by Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia at a panel discussion held within the scope of the Munich Security Council today.
As the Head of Government noted, Georgia also had a war with Russia in 2008. Russia still occupies historic territories of Georgia and keeps two military base stations on the ground.
According to the Prime Minister of Georgia, since the Georgian Dream came to power, a lot of efforts have been made to deescalate the situation and the country is actively cooperating on the path of European integration.
“First of all, thank you for organising this panel discussion. It is a very good initiative and historic meeting, as you mentioned, when three leaders of the South Caucasus get together. I think it is already a successful meeting and thank you for organising this discussion. When it comes to the war in Ukraine, of course, this is a big challenge for all of us. Since WWII, I think, Europe and the world in general has not experienced such a big challenge. You know that in 2008 we had a war with Russia and since then Russia occupies our historic territories – Abkhazia and so called South Ossetia. Russia has 2 military bases on our territory and since then we have been facing lots of problems and challenges, but after we came to power in 2012 we have made a lot of efforts to de-escalate the tension. At the same time, we have been very active on our European integration path. Georgia signed an Association Agreement, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, we got the visa-free regime and last year came the historic decision when the European Council decided to give us the European Perspective. So, to respond to your question on how the war in Ukraine affects all of us and Georgia, right now we all see that Russia is focusing on Ukraine. It is a devastating war and I have to say that we must do everything in order to stop this war” added Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia.
As the Head of Government of Georgia stated, peace has no alternative and Georgia pursues a peace plan to restore its territorial integrity.
“There is no alternative to peace and I have to tell you that Georgia has been pursuing a peaceful resolution policy when it comes to the restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country. We have made it very clear that Georgia has a peaceful plan to restore its territorial integrity and I want to thank the OSCE, EU, US and other participants who have been actively involved in the mediation process. You mentioned the Geneva International Discussions. This is the only platform that we have right now with Russians. So, therefore I must repeat again that this war must be stopped. We have seen the effect of this war in our country in 2008: a lot of people died and we lost control of our territories completely. As I said, Russia has military bases on our territory. It is ongoing. It does not stop. I also want to mention that since the 2008 War, we have not seen any sanctions that were imposed on Russia. On the contrary, we saw that business continued as usual. Therefore, it was a very –let’s say – bad signal. To conclude, I think the international community must now decide how we move forward, because if this war continues, it means more devastation, more killings of civilians. So, therefore, I once again repeat that our intention – our main goal – has to be to stop this war” added Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia.
The Head of Government of Georgia also responded to a question related to Mikheil Saakashvili and noted that the Government of Georgia is creating maximum comfort and care for him at a private hospital, thus providing all the privileges that no other prisoners have.
“I do not want to speculate about the health of President Saakashvili, who is now in a private hospital. I want the people to know that he arrived in Georgia – he came back to Georgia – two years ago, actually a year and a half ago – on October 1, to be more precise. The idea of his coming back was to make another revolution in Georgia, to organise mass killings and bloodshed. He failed and he ended-up in jail. So, he requested that we transfer him to a private hospital. I do not want to bore the audience with all the details, but since you asked publicly, I have to respond. He has been in a private hospital for more than 8 months and the Georgian Government has been providing the maximum support, maximum comfort and all the privileges that other prisoners are not receiving. You mentioned pictures and photos. I want to say that Mr. Saakashvili is a good actor. The Georgian Government has been doing everything we can – the maximum support is provided, I want to repeat again – we even made a proposal – offer –to his family to bring any doctors from any hospital or from any country to provide medical care, in case he needs medical support in Georgia. So, this is my answer. I also want to mention that you have probably seen lots of fake news – disinformation – that has been spread by the lobbying firms of Mr. Saakashvili and his family. For example, I want to give you just a fact: last month it was disclosed that his family officially paid $1 million to launch an aggressive media campaign all around the world. So, what you hear and what you see on the videos or on Facebook or in social networks, does not actually describe the reality. So, therefore, no one stands above the law. We are building a strong democracy in Georgia; we are strengthening democratic institutions. This is the understanding of democracy, I guess. No one should be above the law! Saakashvili committed grave crimes, such as the killings of a former banker Girgvliani – this was a famous case – beating up to death a former Member of Parliament and many other cases – seizure of a private TV channel Imedi, for example. Plus, he added another crime, which is illegally crossing the state border. By the way, for your information, he spent 2 days in a container truck – a refrigerator – when taking a ferry boat from Ukraine, from Odessa, to come back to Georgia to do the revolution. So, this is the story. I did not want to talk about this individual here at this panel, to bother you with all these details, but since you asked, I wanted to respond about this” stated Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia.
According to the Head of Government of Georgia, people need prosperity, stability and peace, and that none of these can be achieved through war.
“Thank you for the question. You mentioned the threats coming from Russia. First of all, I have to say that when talking to our European friends, American friends, our international partners, everybody has the same position that we are not in a position now to say something more precisely or concretely on what will happen in Ukraine. Of course the consequences and results of this war will have an impact on countries like Georgia, you mentioned Moldova. Let’s be very frank. On the entire European security architecture, on the world, what Russia is trying to do now is that they are trying to change the international order – rules-based international order. So, I think, what experts have been saying to us is that in 2-3 months we will have a clear picture of where we are. So, you know about Georgia, It is partially occupied, as 20% of our territory is occupied by Russia. We experienced this war in 2008. We had an indirect – let’s say so – war in the beginning of 90’s, when separatists from Abkhazia and South Ossetia were backed by the Russians. So, we had a good experience. So, therefore, it is hard to say what will happen. I think time will show us where we are now, where the world, the region and Europe will be after Ukraine. I wish to repeat what I said in my opening remarks: there is no alternative to the peaceful negotiations and talks„ because we have witnessed that the nuclear war rhetoric has come back, which is catastrophic for the entire world, not only for Ukraine and Europe, but for the entire world and entire planet, right? So, therefore, we must expect that the United States, China, Russia, and the European Union will sit down and talk about the future of this planet. Because, once again, war is not a solution. Georgia is a small country, with only 4 million people. Again, we have our own challenges, but what we have managed to achieve in the last decade is the only peaceful period – this 10-year period – when we have been in power and ensured peace and stability. This is what people need! We need peace, stability and prosperity! So, by war we cannot achieve prosperity, we cannot achieve stability” concluded Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia.