Ruling party: upgrading relations with US “completely up to correct actions of American side”

In its response, the party said the bill was “yet to be adopted, and prospects of its adoption are quite unclear”. Photo: Georgian Dream Press Office, 21 May 2024 - 16:24, Tbilisi,Georgia

The ruling Georgian Dream party on Tuesday said upgrading the country’s relations with the United States was “completely up to correct actions of the American side”.

The statement of the Political Council of the party followed reports by international media outlets which on Monday said a bill initiated by a US Congressmember was offering the Georgian authorities visa liberalisation and a free trade agreement with the US provided they called off the newly approved law on transparency of foreign influence, refrained from adopting a law against “LGBT propaganda”, held competitive elections and steered clear of “negative rhetoric” against the US.

In its response, the party said the bill was “yet to be adopted, and prospects of its adoption are quite unclear”.

In recent years, similar special bills on Georgia have been initiated in the Congress twice, though none of them has seen the light of day. However, given that the new bill provides fertile ground for speculation on the part of the Georgian opposition, we believe that it calls for a response [from GD]”, the statement said.

The party claimed the country had been “forced to live in the conditions of the so-called polarisation” of the domestic political scene, with “externally funded non-governmental organisations playing a key role” in the alleged environment.

“Worse still, since November 2020, NGOs have attempted twice to spark a revolution in Georgia. In addition, over these years, our country has been subjected to continuous criticism from American politicians and officials, [who have] in this way forc[ed] the Government of Georgia to defend itself with adequate rhetoric”, it also claimed.

[U]pgrading the Georgia-US relations is completely up to correct actions of the American side. And this calls for showing respect for the Georgian state and the Georgian people, instead of making promises with more than ambiguous prospects and turning to insulting blackmail”, the statement added.

“Unfortunately, some American politicians and officials continue making a mistake after mistake, and employ the language of blackmail in communication with Georgia”, the ruling party continued.

The statement stressed the Georgian Government was “not playing games” and was adopting the law on transparency because “we see no other way to pacify the country”.

For us, this law is not an object of trade but an effective means to defend Georgia’s sovereignty, and we cannot, under any circumstance, trade with the country’s sovereignty, nor can we leave unfair attacks on Georgia unanswered. This is our responsibility to the Georgian people, who have granted us the mandate to govern the country”, it also said.

The party further listed actions it said “would have been expected” to be taken by its American partners to “show a decent attitude towards Georgia”.

It claimed the US would have “proven in act that it is Georgia’s strategic partner” by granting visa liberalisation to Georgian citizens and signing a free trade deal “without any caveats”.

The American bill makes it clear that the US could have done this before, but has nonetheless exhibited indifference towards the Georgian people instead”, it alleged.

The release also said the US would have invested in the Georgian economy, “something it last did between 2009-2011 in order to save [former President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s regime from economic meltdown”.

It added the US would have “ensured behavioural change among [Georgian-based] NGOs, namely putting an end to their policy of non-recognition of the legitimacy of the Georgian Government, and brushing aside their revolutionary plans”.

The Political Council also said the US would have “stopped the use of the topic of the European Union [integration] as a tool for constantly blackmailing Georgia”.

“By the end of this year, [EU accession talks] with Georgia would have kicked off, in this way restoring justice in relation to Ukraine, Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina”, it said in reference to the party’s allegations on differential treatment between the three countries aspiring for membership in the bloc.

The GD said the actions would have made the law on transparency “unnecessary”, relieving the Georgian Government of the “obligation to respond to unfair statements”.

If [domestic] NGOs persist in their revolutionary attempts, assaulting the Orthodox Christian Church, supporting religious extremism, encouraging political intervention and playing the religious card to this end, also engaging in LGBT and drug propaganda, seeking to undermine state institutions and creating obstacles for economic projects - while some American politicians and officials continue their attacks against Georgia - we will need the law on transparency, and we will be forced to retaliate. Consequently, the adoption of the law on the transparency of NGOs at this point has no alternative”, the ruling party noted.

The statement also stressed “continuously utilising the same attitude towards Georgia” would “jeopardise the interests of both Georgia and America”, and further pointed out that “it is all in the hands of our partners, and Georgia, a small country, is unable to change anything unilaterally - thus, we must hope that rational thinking prevails in America, only to benefit both countries”.