Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has appeared defiant while appearing before parliament, insisting that Georgia deserved EU candidacy while denigrating opponents.
The Prime Minister’s appearance on Wednesday followed one of the largest demonstrations in Georgia’s recent history; an estimated 60,000—150,000 people came to the streets on Monday to support Georgia’s EU membership.
The EU is expected to make a decision on Georgia’s application for membership on Friday. However, the European Commission has recommended the country not be granted candidate status, while endorsing Moldova and Ukraine’s applications.
During the raucous session of parliament which several times descended into chaos, several opposition MPs came close to being ejected by security after shouting over the PM.
Gharibashvili responded to them with insults, saying the UNM’s Ana Tsitlidze was from a party of traitors. Others, he responded to by calling them ‘sick’ and in need of medicine, including Strategy Aghmashenebeli MP Tako Charkviani and the UNM’s Khatia Dekanoidze.
Gharibashvili claimed that the responsibility for Georgia potentially not being granted candidate status was on the opposition United National Movement, who he claimed had been lobbying in Brussels for Georgia to be denied.
Responding to this claim on Twitter, Czech MEP Markétka Gregorová accused the Prime Minister of lying.
‘I have been in meetings with [the] opposition and ALL of them almost begged us for the candidate status. So don't lie. Come to Brussels and we can talk. Don't be the problem, be the solution’, she wrote.
@GharibashviliGe Have you been in Brussels? I didn't see you. But I have been in meetings with opposition and ALL of them almost begged us for the candidate status. So don't lie. Come to Brussels and we can talk. Don't be the problem, be the solution.
— Markétka Gregorová 🦄 (@MarketkaG) June 22, 2022
German MEP Viola von Cramon, meanwhile, said her attempts to meet with the Prime Minister had been ignored.
Gharibashvili listed a number of claimed achievements under Georgian Dream’s rule, claiming that Georgia now exceeded even some EU member states in some regards. He also spoke in length criticising the previous rule of the UNM.
Throughout his appearance, Gharibashvili repeatedly praised party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose alleged unofficial influence has become a sticking point for the EU.
The EU Commission recommended that Georgia be given several conditions before their membership application could be reexamined. These included a ‘commitment to “de-oligarchisation” by eliminating the excessive influence of vested interests in economic, political, and public life’, widely seen as a reference to Ivanishvili.
He also said claiming Ivanishvili had power over the government would be like accusing former US President Barack Obama of currently running an ‘oligarchic-type government and informal government’, because President Joe Biden shared some of Obama’s former advisors.