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President Zurabishvili vows to ‘unite’ pro-European groups in Georgia

6 February 2024
President Salome Zurabishvili presenting her annual report to parliament, with parliamentary speaker Shalva Papuashvili in the background. Image via parliament.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has announced her intent to ‘unite’ pro-European groups in Georgia ahead of the parliamentary elections set for October.

On Tuesday, Zurabishvili presented her final annual report in parliament before the end of her term as president at the end of 2024.

During her presentation, Zurabishvili announced that she would establish what she called a ‘coordination centre’ through the Presidential Administration to gather proposals on how Georgia should tackle the priorities laid out by the European Commission late last year through dialogue and consensus.

Zurabishvili said that society ‘no longer believes’ in the unification of parties, just as it no longer believes in ‘separate claims about total victory’.

‘We have a goal — the European future; for this, we need to agree on the main priorities’, she said. ‘This can be achieved by establishing a joint platform. This is what we propose to create a charter of the future “Unity Platform for Europe” ’.

Zurabishvili announced that she planned on meeting civil society representatives and political figures from different parties ‘in the coming days’.

‘The victory formula does not mean the victory of any side or party, but the victory of unity, Europeanness and the country’, said Zurabishvili.

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After her speech, incoming Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze stated that, by establishing her platform, Zurabishvili had ‘actually confirmed the plans we were talking about […] she is clearly going to create a pseudo-middle political force, for which she will resign in September and take part in the elections’.

While never directly stating that she would run in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Zurabishvili told RFE/RL in December that she would ‘consider anything’ if ‘Georgia’s European future is on the line’.

Zurabishvili’s proposal was received positively by the Victory Coalition, a bloc bringing together the United National Movement (UNM), Georgia’s largest opposition party, and Giorgi Vashadze’s Strategy Aghmashenebeli.

Davit Usupashvili, a member of the opposition Lelo party, also said that he welcomed the president’s initiative.

During her speech on Tuesday, Zurabishvili also expressed doubt about Kobakhidze’s ability to lead reforms necessary for Georgia’s EU membership.

Tensions between Georgian Dream and Zurabishvili came to a head in October last year when the parliamentary majority attempted to impeach the president for conducting official visits without the government’s approval.

[Read on OC Media: Georgian Dream fails to impeach President Zurabishvili]

‘I am addressing the new or future prime minister — you, who are associated with the admission of [Russian Duma Member Sergey] Gavrilov to the parliament, the annulment of the Charles Michel document, anti-European rhetoric, and [my] impeachment: how do you intend to fulfil the European order of society and, in particular, to implement the recommendations before the elections?’