Parliament adopted on March 6 GD-proposed resolution on Ukraine calling on the west to take “political, economic and diplomatic measures” to help Ukraine amid Russian “aggression”.
The resolution was passed by a vote of 74-0, but lawmakers from UNM parliamentary minority group did not vote for it citing GD majority’s refusal to include in the text direct calls for international sanctions against Russia.
Despite two days of negotiations between GD and UNM lawmakers in an attempt to come up with a bipartisan text, the parties failed to agree and each group put on vote its own separate resolution. UNM’s draft was rejected by a vote of 27-6.
Main cause of disagreement was related to UNM’s insistence to include in the text a point that would have called on the Georgian government to “carry out active diplomatic campaign for the purpose of diplomatic isolation of and imposing sanctions against” Russia. UNM lawmakers said this point was of “principle” importance.
Discussions on two separate drafts grew into heated debates during which UNM parliamentary minority group was accusing some GD lawmakers of being, as one MP put it, “loyal” to Russia because of their reluctance to include sanctions clause in the resolution and GD MPs were blaming opposition of trying to “impose”, as one GD MP put it, “scandalist” and “provocative” policies pursued by UNM when it was in power.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, who was the last speaker in debates, said that instead of staying on-topic and focusing on developments in Ukraine, lawmakers spent most of their time in mutual accusations.
“This is one of the hardest days for me in this Parliament and today I am not proud that I am the member of Parliament,” Usupashvili said in his speech and said that the GD-proposed text and its wording is “absolutely right”; he also accused UNM of trying to derail attempts to draft a joint text even before talks were over on March 5.
Text of Resolution
“The recent aggressive acts carried out by the Russian Federation against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including use of military units on the territory of Ukraine in violation of provisions of the bilateral agreements and threat of large scale military aggression, pose a serious threat not only to our friendly Ukraine, but to Georgia and entire Europe as well.
Georgia experienced firsthand Russia’s armed aggression in 2008 and other similar processes (distribution of Russian passports, setting up of illegal armed formations, military exercises near the state border, military intervention under the pretext to protect its own citizens, etc.) that resulted in occupation of Georgia’s two regions and ethnic cleansing. Ukraine faces the same threat today.
Therefore, the Parliament of Georgia:
Text of UNM-Proposed Draft
Draft of resolution proposed by the UNM, which was rejected, was calling on the Georgian government to “carry out active diplomatic campaign for the purpose of diplomatic isolation” of Russia. It said that Russia’s “political aggression” against Ukraine, which aimed at forcing Kiev to change its foreign policy course, now grew into “military aggression.” It also said that Russia’s actions pose “existential threat” not only to Ukraine, but to Georgia as well. According to the text Russia’s actions against Ukraine follow patterns similar to those applied by Moscow against Georgia in the lead up to aggression in August, 2008, including distribution of Russian passports, followed by military intervention under the pretext of protecting its citizens; use of local “puppet leaders” for the purpose of legitimizing aggression; use of illegal armed groups and deployment of Russian troops.
The text then continues by saying that the Georgian Parliament:
Debates were held over the two separate drafts before they were put on vote.
“Reference to sanctions in the text turned out to be a red line for the parliamentary majority, which it failed to cross and we believe that it is the major difference,” UNM MP Zurab Japaridze said, adding that UNM’s insistence to include sanctions clause in the resolution “is not something out of the ordinary” as western leaders have also been speaking about it.
MP Japaridze said that while some GD members were inclined to agree on UNM-proposed text, most of them were against which made it impossible to reach an agreement. “There is a majority [within GD], who is more loyal towards Russia rather than towards Georgia’s interests,” he added.
“What the Georgian Dream calls constructivism towards Russia is in fact nothing else but fear before this so called ‘great neighbor’; what the Georgian Dream calls pragmatism [in relation with Russia] is simply infantilism, which may cost a lot to our country. It is high time for the GD to revise its foreign policy approach [in respect of Russia],” he added.
GD MP Victor Dolidze, who was involved in drafting of the text, said that “measures” mentioned in the GD-proposed resolution also imply sanctions. He said that UNM was insisting on use of term “sanctions” because it wanted to “make headlines out of it.” “Our work is not based on making headlines; we are result-oriented and we will bring that result,” he added. “This [GD-proposed] resolution is result-oriented and concrete.”
UNM lawmaker, Givi Targamadze, responded: “Yes it should be in headlines that Georgia, which has suffered [from Russia] like Ukraine, demanded isolation of and sanctions against Russia.”
MP Targamadze also said that he has a “firm impression” that GD is “agreeing text” of resolution with Russian officials. “We [UNM] will never vote for any document, which is being agreed with Russia and which is being adopted as a result of giving up Georgia’s interests,” he added.
GD lawmaker, Gia Zhorzholiani, said that GD-proposed resolution makes a reference to sanctions by calling on the EU and the U.S. “to take efficient political, economic and diplomatic measures” to protect Ukraine from Russia’s aggression and for achieving Georgia’s de-occupation. He said that with these debates UNM only aimed at “justifying” its wrong policies pursued by the party when it was in power and trying to create its “political platform” out of developments in Ukraine. He also mentioned former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been in Kiev for past several days to, as Saakashvili himself said, help the Ukrainian authorities with “advice”.
“Saakashvili, who cannot walk in the streets of Tbilisi, is searching for places from where he can carry out a political campaign and his team is trying here to impose his political campaign on us,” MP Zhorzholiani said. “We should not be diverted from the policy that we pursue… and we should not become dragged into squabbles. There is no rational answer to these absurd and irrational analysis and discourse that we hear today from [UNM]. We should realize well that this is just a political campaign aimed at putting us on the path of scandalistic and provocative policy, which was pursued by the UNM, which now wants us to continue their legacy. No, we will not do that.”
GD MP Eka Beselia accused UNM of “pseudo-patriotism” and using developments in Ukraine for scoring political points.
UNM MP Giorgi Gabashvili said that debates show fundamental difference between two opposing principles and compared this difference to the one that existed in Europe between those who followed a policy of appeasement of Hitler and those how opposed it in the 1930s.
“Your conceptual mistake is that you can’t even mention word ‘sanctions’,” MP Gabashvili said and added that Georgia should be in forefront of supporting Ukraine. He told GD lawmakers that they remain fixated on slamming Saakashvili, who, he said, speaks to western television channels, commenting on developments in Ukraine and defending Georgia’s interests, “unlike your silent, hidden, frightened Prime Minister” Irakli Garibashvili. “Should not the Georgian Parliament say that we support sanctions against those people who are cancer for the free world? Should not we dare to say it?” MP Gabashvili said and added that GD did not want to make reference to sanction in the resolution because of trying to avoid “upsetting” Russia. “But that’s not what may upset [Russia]. Whether they will be upset or not… depends on whether you [the Georgian government] will really go towards NATO and EU or not… I really want to believe that you will really go towards NATO and EU and in that case you can’t avoid confrontation [with Russia] and in this confrontation you should be standing next to the international community.” He said.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, whose speech concluded debates, said that he and his colleagues from the GD ruling majority spared no effort during consultations on draft resolution with the UNM lawmakers for past two days to avoid the kind of the debate on the issue that had taken place in the Parliament. Usupashvili said that instead of speaking about “how to help Ukraine” lawmakers wasted “98% of time and energy” on mutual accusations.
Usupashvili also said that when on March 5, while consultations were not yet over and attempts were still ongoing to come up with bipartisan text of resolution, UNM lawmakers started speaking publicly about points of disagreements between the parties, it made reaching of agreement even more difficult.
He said that when in the middle of negotiations one starts speaking about the details of talks before TV cameras, trying to score political points, “it means that you are aiming at thwarting” the process.
“The good news is that while we are arguing here, the executive government is in touch with Kiev, Brussels and Washington on daily basis; relevant documents calling for sanctions have been sent to the Council of Europe. Yes we are working and we’ll keep on working and that’s the good news. But I think we all have to apologize on behalf of the parliament before ordinary Ukrainian citizens because of what happened here in this chamber today and because of our failure to make Ukraine, instead of something else, a priority in this chamber today,” Usupashvili said.
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