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Government supporters launch ‘Neutral Georgia’ movement

10 July 2024
The founders presenting their new movement on 10 July in Tbilisi. Image via Vato Shakarishvili/Facebook.

A group of supporters of Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream party have launched the United Neutral Georgia movement, opposing Georgia's EU and NATO membership aspirations.

On Wednesday, a group of outspoken supporters of the ruling party launched  United Neutral Georgia to protest what they described as Georgia's ‘religious’ enthusiasm for EU membership. 

The founders promised to transform their movement into a political party in a year’s time, and to run in the 2028 parliamentary elections. 

‘We have to build an independent, democratic, and neutral Georgia’, the new movement argued, at an event heavily covered by Georgian pro-government media. The group claimed that Georgians had been ‘held hostage’ by the issue of EU integration, ‘especially during the past two years’. 

The launch of the new organisation coincided with mounting concerns that Georgia, unlike Ukraine and Moldova, had halted its progress towards EU membership. Concerns have risen in light of recent US and EU announcements that military funding and training to Georgia would be cut, in relation to the Georgian government’s anti-Western turn. 

[Read more: EU suspends €30 million in defence aid to Georgia

The movement’s manifesto described the EU’s economy as ‘stagnating’, European politics as mired in ‘pseudo-liberalism’, and its political class as subservient to a ‘foreign country’, likely intended to suggest the US. 


‘At the behest of a foreign country, they opened [Europe’s] doors to total migration, which robs European nations of their national identities at an accelerated rate’, their manifesto read. ‘It is precisely according to instructions from a foreign country that they [European bureaucrats] replace Christianity, a traditional religion for Europe, with a new religion called LGBTQI+’.

The movement's manifesto condemned the EU's recent criticism of Georgia, including the foreign agent bill, as also dictated by forces outside Europe. It also argued against Georgia giving up its sovereignty by seeking membership in a union that they claimed might disintegrate by 2030. 

United Neutral Georgia also chastised the ruling party for including Georgia’s NATO membership aspirations in the country's constitution several years ago, and warned against Georgia sharing Ukraine's fate. The group, however, made no mention of Russia at all. 

Georgia’s constitution stipulates that the government do everything possible to secure EU and NATO membership.

The movement criticised the ruling party for following a foreign policy agenda they claimed was borrowed from the opposition. Nevertheless, United Neutral Georgia’s manifesto reflected recent rhetoric by Georgian Dream leaders, including their focus on Georgia potentially ‘giving up’ its sovereignty in case of receiving EU membership, depicting Ukraine as a victim of NATO’s expansion attempts, and repeating anti-immigration rhetoric used by European far-right groups.

[Read more: Georgian PM rails against ‘liberal’ West at far-right Budapest conference

On Tuesday, former deputy interior minister and current member of the opposition For Georgia party Natia Mezvrishvil called the movement’s founders the 'puppets' of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire founder and honorary chair of Georgian Dream. 

‘Ivanishvili has been testing public attitudes towards #neutrality within last couple of years’, wrote Mezvrishvili. ‘This is happening along with strong anti-Western rhetoric & ahead of elections.’

Vato (Vakhtang) Shakarishvili, a former deputy chair of the Georgian Dream faction of the Tbilisi city assembly and a prominent antiliberal and anti-queer campaigner, co-leads the United Neutral Georgia movement.

In April 2019, Shakarishvili defected from the party to join Protect Georgia, a group primarily made up of people who claimed to have grown disillusioned by the ruling party. The group, like the Ai Ia conservative movement, which Shakarishvili co-founded later in 2021, failed to gain traction. Before launching yet another movement today, Shakarashvii co-founded another group, the Conservative Movement – Georgia First, in July of last year. 

Among the other leading members of the movement are Nana Kakabadze, an outspoken government supporter, and prominent lawyer and government supporter Gela Nikolaishvili.

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