Georgia’s ruling party is seeking to impeach the president over her visits to the EU, which it said were made against the will of the government, the local news agency Interpress has reported.
Salome Zourabichvili met the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Berlin on Thursday and the European Council president, Charles Michel, in Brussels on Friday to drum up support for Georgia’s campaign to receive EU candidate status.
The Georgian Dream party leader, Irakli Kobakhidze, reportedly said Zourabichvili had “flagrantly violated” the constitution.
Kobakhidze, who accepted that the impeachment proceedings would be unlikely to succeed without support from opposition parties, said the government had sent a letter denying her permission to hold the meetings.
Along with Kosovo, Georgia is viewed as an official potential candidate for accession to the EU but it failed to get formal candidate status along with Moldova and Ukraine last year.
A former French diplomat of Georgian descent, Zourabichvili was elected to Georgia’s mostly ceremonial presidency in 2018 with Georgian Dream’s backing.
She has since broken with the party, which she has repeatedly accused of being pro-Russian and insufficiently committed to Georgia joining the EU and Nato. Georgian Dream says it wants Georgia to join both blocs.
Davit Kezerashvili, a former Georgian defence minister, said via a spokesperson in London: “The Georgian government’s attempts to sanction their own president over a trip to Europe appear both high-handed and out of touch.
“Opinion polls have consistently shown that ordinary Georgians overwhelmingly favour EU and Nato membership. Sadly, the authoritarian actions of the current Tbilisi government are derailing those ambitions, and Georgia appears to be slowly drifting back into the Kremlin’s grip.”
This week a report by the thinktank Carnegie Europe said Georgia’s ruling party was “mirroring the strategies of Viktor Orbán [prime minister of Hungary] and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [president of Turkey]”, and its puzzling relationship with Russia was a “source of alarm”.
Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow at the thinktank, said the “slide away from democracy” was alarming and was complicating the country’s efforts to join Moldova and Ukraine as EU accession candidates.
After the meeting with Zourabichvili in Brussels, Michel reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to supporting Georgia in advancing to candidacy status, repeating earlier EU observations that the country needed to pursue reforms in “justice, deoligarchisation and anti-corruption and media pluralism”.
De Waal noted that the government had banned the entry of high-level critics of Russia to Georgia, while the prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, had accused those who urge more support for Ukraine of being a “party of war”.
He said Georgia appeared to be taking a leaf out of Orbán’s book by engaging in a culture war and aligning the country’s values with “traditional conservative family values” and decrying LGBT “propaganda” as a “false freedom”.
Source: The Guardian