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Georgian PM to speak at conservative conference in Hungary

27 April 2023
Irakli Gharibashvili. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili is to speak alongside Hungary’s Victor Orbán and other conservative figures at the CPAC conference in Budapest.

The Conservative Political Action Conference is an American conservative organisation that has held annual conferences since 1974. The Budapest conference, held on 4–5 May under the motto ‘united we stand’, will be the group’s second European event.

Announcing Gharibashvili’s attendance on Wednesday, the Center for Fundamental Rights, a pro-Orbán Hungarian think-tank and co-organiser of the event, praised the Georgian Prime Minister’s stance against queer rights.

‘⛔️ 🏳️‍🌈 #GenderPropaganda has not been kind to Georgia, but [Irakli Gharibashvili] believes that activists and politicians have a duty to respect the will of the majority, and the vast majority of Georgians reject propagandistic, demonstrative LGBTQ pressure’, the group tweeted.

‘[Gharibashvili] believes that Georgia is a #conservative society with unique values based on #Christianity’, they added.

According to the Associated Press, the two-day conference reflects deepening ties between the American right wing and government of Victor Orbán, who will deliver the keynote speech. 

According to CPAC, the event ‘will concentrate on the liberals’ nightmare: the international convergence of national forces’.

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The government of Georgia has not yet commented on the announcement.

The Hungarian ambassador to Georgia, Anna Mária Sikó, told TV Pirveli on Wednesday that the organisers chose Gharibashvili because Georgia and Hungary share the same values.

‘…Because it is a broad platform for political thoughts, protection of values that we share. Georgia shares our vision in Christianity, traditional values, family values, and family ties’, she reportedly said.

Speaking with OC Media, Mariam Kvaratskhelia, a co-founder and co-director of queer rights group Tbilisi Pride, said Gharibashvili’s participation could have a negative impact on Georgia.

She said the PM was participating in a conference that ‘openly opposes the values of the European Union, including the protection of women and vulnerable members of society.’

‘The conference appears to promote regressive and harmful ideas. It is concerning that the Prime Minister is openly affiliated with these pro-Russian and anti-EU forces, who are frequently criticised by the European Commission. This affiliation may undermine our candidacy for EU membership’, she added.

Georgia’s bid for EU membership candidate status is due to be reexamined later this year.

‘Propagandist parade’

Gharibashvili’s record on queer rights has faced widespread criticism from local and international rights groups.

In 2021, several days after more than 50 journalists were injured after far-right groups violently disrupted a planned pride march, Gharibashvili came out against the organisers of the march.

Anti-Pride protesters threaten an OC Media reporter. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

‘When 95% of the population are against conducting a propagandist parade, we should obey this’, he said.

[Read on OC Media: Gharibashvili doubles down with homophobia and conspiracy theories]

Following the attacks on journalists by the far-right Alt Info group, one of those injured, TV Pirveli camera operator Lekso Lashkarava, died. 

Although a handful of individuals have faced charges over the violence, none of the organisers of the violence, who openly coordinated the riot, has faced justice.

‘They call us violent people, and yes, I am violent… I am ready to use violence’, Zurab Makharadze from the Alt Info group warned a crowd before the Pride March planned for 5 July 2021. Photo: Shota Kincha/OC Media.

In June 2022, when, unlike Ukraine and Moldova, Georgia failed to receive the EU candidate status, the European Union delivered 12 recommendations to Georgia, one of which indicates that the country should ensure the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups.

The EU recommended Georgia ‘move swiftly to strengthen the protection of human rights of vulnerable groups, including by bringing perpetrators and instigators of violence to justice more effectively’.