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Georgian PM rails against ‘liberal’ West at far-right Budapest conference

26 April 2024
Irakli Kobakhidze speaking at CPAC. Screengrab from Center for Fundamental Rights / Youtube.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and claimed that Western-influenced liberals seek to undermine Georgian national identity in a keynote speech at an ultra-conservative conference in Budapest.

On 25 April, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze was among the international speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Hungary. 

The Conservative Political Action Conference is an American conservative organisation and namesake annual event that has held conferences since 1974. The latest was the third CPAC event held by the Budapest-based Center for Fundamental Rights, in a country ruled by right-wing populist and national-conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party, Fidesz.

This is the second time that a Georgian prime minister has participated in the event, after Kobakhidze’s predecessor, Iralki Garibashvili, took part in last year’s conference. In May 2023, Georgian Dream abandoned their affiliation with the Party of European Socialists after the group signalled that it would retract the Georgian ruling party’s observer member status over Garibashvili’s homophobic remarks at CPAC. 

The two prime ministers’ participation has been seen as evidence of Georgia and Hungary growing closer as Georgia’s relations with the EU deteriorate. 

[Read more: EU Parliament calls for sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili]

Kobakhidze, a 45-year-old constitutional lawyer educated in Germany who was confirmed as prime minister in February, used his CPAC keynote address to rail against his domestic critics and ‘so-called liberals’. 


While referencing Soviet Bolsheviks and Georgia’s Soviet ‘occupation’, Kobakhidze made no mention of Russia or the current Russian military presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which his own government openly classifies as ‘occupation’. 

Instead, Kobakhidze evoked Georgia’s Soviet history to compare the Bolsheviks to ‘liberals’.  

‘The only difference between the so-called liberals and the Bolsheviks is that the latter used sledgehammers as their main weapon in the fight against religion, while the liberals fight against Christianity with propaganda, which, under the conditions of total control of the media, has much greater power than the sledgehammer’, he noted. 

In his speech, Kobakhdze lauded his party’s draft constitutional amendments that would ban ‘LGBT propaganda’ and gender transition, and accused Western-influenced ‘liberals’ of seeking to undermine national identities both in Georgia and globally. In the case of Georgia, Kobakhidze alleged that they not only opposed Georgians’ Christian faith, but also advocated for liberal drug policies.

The Prime Minister identified Europe and the USA as places where ‘the so-called liberal ideology’ had ‘the most widespread roots’. 

A group of Georgians in Hungary protested near the event against the contentious foreign agent draft bill tabled by Kobakhidze’s Georgian Dream party. Image: László Róbert Mézes/X.

Kobakhidze also used common homophobic and transphobic narratives to defend claims that such a movement was actively engaged in ‘propaganda’ against traditional values, suggesting that ‘liberals’ were against using ‘terms like woman and man or mother and father’ and that the increasing number of individuals self-identifying as queer in the USA and Europe was a result of such campaigns. 

[Read more: Georgian Dream announces constitutional changes to outlaw queer ‘propaganda’ and gender transitioning]

Irakli Kobakhidze’s participation in CPAC fell as party representatives have been holding mandatory public talks around Georgia, on the proposed constitutional amendments against ‘LGBT propaganda’. 

Human rights defenders and queer activists have largely snubbed the meetings.

‘A threat to national identity’

Speaking before a range of prominent Western far-right figures including former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, former Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, chair of Spanish right-wing political party Vox Santiago Abascal, and several current and former right-wing US lawmakers, the Georgian head of government praised their strong anti-immigration positions, and claimed that ‘uncontrolled migration’ posed ‘the greatest threat to the national identity of European countries’. 

Kobakhidze hailed Orbán and his government as ‘role models for everyone’ for defending Hungarians’ national identity from migrants and ‘so-called liberal propaganda’. 

He echoed the common European far-right talking point on Great Replacement, noting that if the migration rates ‘continue[d] at the current pace, the local population in many European countries will very soon be a minority’.

In 2022, the European Union’s statistical bureau reported 1,120,380 illegal Georgian nationals in the EU. 

In the past decade, around 2–5% of Georgia’s population has emigrated every year, with large numbers of Georgians, overwhelmingly women, seeking formal or informal employment in EU member states to provide for their families through remittances. Many Georgian labour migrants are based in Germany, Italy, and Greece, where tackling illegal immigration is amongst the key issues in the upcoming EU elections.