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Less West and more Russia – What will result in a deepening crisis?

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The American and European partners directly state that Georgia will suffer because of the political persecution of the opposition, that international support and the prospects of the country’s membership in the European Union or NATO will be called into question. After the morning raid by the riot police on the UNM office, the opposition returned to the streets and demanded the release of political prisoners and early elections. Until the evening of February 23, the Georgian Dream was making statements about “criminals in politics” on behalf of the rule of law, thanking the police for “highly qualified action.”

  • What do international partners see when they look at the developments in Georgia?
  • How can events unfold?
  • Why do you remember Russia and what benefits does the Kremlin expect?

The fact of Nika Melia’s arrest has already crossed the borders of one politician, one party, one political crisis and one state. The Georgian Dream has failed to convince Western partners that the arrest of the opposition party leader should be interpreted only in the language of justice and that it has nothing to do with political retaliation.

The US Embassy said on the morning of February 23 that the entire responsibility for deepening the crisis and pulling the country back lies with the Georgian Dream government.

On February 23, many announcements were made during the day – with a stern tone and ratings. International partners fear that Georgia will have to pay for the steps taken by the government:

  • I’m very concerned as well USAHe Representatives In the ward Co-chair of the Group of Friends of Georgia. We have just introduced a law in support of Georgia. But this is not an automatic process … we observe everything ” USAHe Representatives In the ward of Georgia Of friends Of the group Co-Chair, Adam Kinzinger on Twitter;
  • “Escalation Logic Wins. Political Crisis Deepens. All Side Responsibility Should To show And Of the country And GeorgiaLos Of the people The best Interests Accordingly To act. Common Language Finding On attempts Refusal no Should To sayEU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel on Facebook;
  • “We are closely monitoring the events in Georgia. The arrest of the chairman of the main opposition party is deeply troubling. “NATO expects that Georgia – a close partner and aspirant – will maintain the Euro-Atlantic democratic standards on which it has worked so hard.” NATO General Secretary Special Representative South In the Caucasus And Central In Asia, James Appathurai On Facebook;
  • “All the friends of Georgian democracy should stand around those who are now defending it (democracy). The government should calm down the situation and release Melia “ – Former US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly on Twitter;
  • “Let us wake up!” Let’s call and respond. Democracy is under attack! Using gas and violence, like Putin. Ivanishvili’s regime must pay a fee “Lithuania Parliament Foreign Affairs Of the Committee Chairman, Zhigimantas PavilionFound on Twitter.

This is just a small collection of statements made on 23 February.

“Unfortunately, these statements are just the beginning, and if nothing changes, they will be followed by a very sharp reaction and concrete actions by our international partners … The main thing will be affected – the interest of the people. Aren’t these EU and NATO divisive issues – this is security and economic prosperity and Georgia will suffer from their loss.

When such things (arrests of oppositionists) take place in Belarus and Russia, the West reacts to it, but in the case of Georgia the reaction will be harsher, because this country has made the choice to join NATO and the European Union, and in our case the game is even higher …

Unfortunately, our closest strategic allies (US, EU countries), who have spent billions on Georgia’s development, warn us about this …

We should also expect sanctions and, for example, in the first stage – the suspension of EU financial projects … It is also expected that sanctions will be imposed on certain individuals. ” Former Ambassador to Georgia Paata Gaprindashvili, Director of the Georgian Reform Association (GRASS), told Radio Liberty.

Experts point to an agreement reached by EU foreign ministers on 22 February to impose new sanctions on Russian citizens, presumably – government officials – the opposition leader, Alexei Navalny For arrest and punishment of his supporters. The reason is that, according to Western governments, the accusations against Navalny are politically motivated. Russia accuses Navalny of economic crimes and is outraged by Western sanctions.

On February 23, at the end of the day, it was announced that the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, had received foreign ambassadors accredited to Georgia. „“The President discussed in detail with the ambassadors the current political situation and ways out of the current situation.” – Says the Presidential Administration without specifying the details.

Also at the end of the day, opposition leaders arrived at the residence of the EU Ambassador to meet with foreign partners.

Against the backdrop of harsh statements from international partners, the Georgian Dream has not yet changed its mind and continues to express satisfaction with the raid on the UNM office and the arrest of Nika Melia.

Authorities said on February 23 that sharp reactions from international partners were expected of them.

for us Is it clear, that International Partners they have Fear in Georgia Political Processes Further With polarization In connection with, Which led to Political System Maybe Western Standards To get away– Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream, stated at one of the briefings held on February 23.

However, Kobakhidze hopes that the international partners will understand everything perfectly, namely:

  • “The way to reduce polarization is through the unwavering protection of the dignity of the state, the realization of the principles of the rule of law and the rule of law”;
  • “Polarization is caused not by the so-called The presence of politicians in prison, but also the presence of criminals in politics “;
  • “Protecting the dignity of the state, enforcing the law and decriminalizing politics will not only prevent, but, on the contrary, contribute to a qualitative reduction in the degree of polarization”;
  • “Ensuring the rule of law is the main guarantee that nothing will hinder Georgia’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic family.”

Irakli Kobakhidze also said that the generous approach of the state brought worse results and was distinguished by the deepening of polarization and radicalism. Politicians ”who have been exposed or accused “In various serious crimes”. He named: “Mikheil Saakashvili, Nika Gvaramia, Nikanor Melia, Mamuka Khazaradze, Gigi Ugulava and others”.

Is this a threat of crackdown on politicians and media owners whose cases have been suspended for several months since the March 8, 2020 agreement?

The opposition, which has resumed street protests and set up tents on Rustaveli Avenue, is convinced that the Georgian Dream, like Putin’s Russia, has moved to an open dictatorship, and if the public fails to stop it under pressure from international partners, catching politicians will be a drop in the ocean. Which can be developed in Georgia.

The opposition warns the public that dictatorships and repressions will not only threaten politicians, but will also affect every citizen of Georgia, even by delaying the development of the country.

The opposition is announcing the start of permanent rallies and is planning a large-scale protest rally on February 26.

What roads remain?

What is happening in Georgia now reminds most experts of Russia and Belarus – countries that, despite Western calls, are demonstratively arresting opponents and turning the rest of society against them.

Former Ambassador Valeri Chechelashvili, a senior fellow at the Rondell Foundation, tells us that Georgia is approaching a dangerous level and that the Georgian Dream now has two options:

“Either Mr. Melia should be released and early elections should be called, which will put an end to this tense political process, or the Georgian Dream will have no choice but to move to an even tougher policy, which will include arresting other leaders and This will put Georgia in a deeper impasse.

The high level of polarization leaves no more choice. Where are we going then? What way is this? Who will stay the winner? “It is a continuation of the policy that Russia is pursuing in its environs.”

According to Valeri Chechelashvili, Russia will use destabilization to feed the arguments of skeptics in the West who do not consider Georgia worthy of NATO and EU membership; And the farther Georgia gets from the West, the closer it gets to Russia’s orbit.

“It is risky that the West will get tired of our endless problems and I am very afraid of that. It will be a concession of political space and maneuver to Russia.

The irritating thing is that this is happening against the background of the general weakening of Russia, and instead of taking advantage of the new opportunities that have arisen with the arrival of a new president (Joe Biden) in the US, it turns out that – the only direction where Russia strengthens its position now is Georgia. .. How can you get used to it ?! “- Valeri Chechelashvili tells us.

In his view, the resignation of the Prime Minister and the ruling party at number one on the electoral list would be the basis for calling early elections in any parliamentary republic that Georgia represents today; However, after the resignation of Giorgi Gakharia, “Georgian Dream”, in conditions of deep polarization, not only did not call early elections, but also named him Prime Minister. “Distinguished by special toughness and threats against the opposition” Irakli Garibashvili.

Valeri Chechelashvili is convinced that the Georgian Dream will not be able to convince its international partners that the arrest of Nika Melia should be considered only within the legal framework.

According to Paata Gaprindashvili, in this context, the negative assessments of the Georgian judiciary should be taken into account, which have been formed by international partners over the years and open statements were made regarding the politicization of the judiciary.

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Less West and more Russia - What will result in a deepening crisis?