During a confirmation hearing of reshuffled cabinet on July 26 parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili called on the government and GD lawmakers to focus on future and to set Europe as a standard of comparison and not those nine years when UNM was in power.
In his speech during the parliamentary hearing, Usupashvili, who spoke on behalf of Republicans parliamentary faction, part of GD majority group, reflected on debates ahead of confidence vote to the reshuffled cabinet, which was dominated by mutual accusations and less substance. UNM opposition lawmakers slammed PM Irakli Garibashvili as “puppet” of “Russian oligarch” ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, criticizing him of “insulting” the opposition MPs instead of answering their “legitimate” questions. Garibashvili was often deflecting and ignoring questions asked by UNM MPs, denouncing them as “absurd” and “demagogy”.
“I have three documents here,” Usupashvili said, showing the Georgian Constitution, Association Agreement with the EU and government’s program. “It is important to agree based on texts of these three documents on how the Georgian Dream coalition will lead the country and how we will report to the people in two years [ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections] that we moved the country forward and fulfilled what is written in these documents and fulfilled it in a way as these documents instruct – this is essential and important,” Usupashvili said.
“And what is not essential? – wasting our time and nerves on what we have already heard in this chamber for 20, 30 and 50 times over the past year and a half. We were hearing [from some UNM MPs] that Georgia would turn into Russian colony, because that’s part of the [GD’s] plot. I have heard many times and today I again heard remarks [from some GD MPs] that people are very irritated that these people [UNM MPs] talk so much.”
“I am irritated by you getting irritated by what these people [UNM MPs] are talking about. Why cannot we just stop all these and turn to our work?,” Usupashvili said.
He said that voters stance over these issues was reflected in results of three elections held in Georgia in past twenty months – 2012 parliamentary, 2013 presidential and 2014 local elections – all won by the ruling GD coalition. Usupashvili said that local election results were even “a bit inappropriate for democracy” because GD won in all the cities and municipalities.
“Now the only thing is left is to work, but we will fail to succeed if standard of comparison for us will be those nine years when UNM was [in power]. If we praise the new Interior Minister just because he is better than the previous one [who was under UNM], of course, we will not be able to move forward,” Usupashvili said.
Using a football analogy, he said that signing of the Association Agreement with the EU was moving to UEFA Champions League and added that “we will be kicked out of even the Georgian championship, meaning getting nothing in next elections,” if the opposition becomes a standard of comparison for GD.
“The Republicans faction and personally I express our confidence to the government and tell them that from now on our standard of comparison is not the past, but today’s Europe,” he said.
“Let others deal with the past – historians, prosecutors, experts; the future should be dealt by those who have been hired by the people for this – government, parliamentary majority. So let’s look forward,” Usupashvili said.
“We, the parliamentary majority group and the government, should agree on one thing – we should not waste so much time on kind of debates, which are completely pointless,” he said, but also added that the opponents should be listened and if there is something reasonable it should be taken into consideration and not ignored just because “we do not like those” who say it.
He also said that the parliamentary majority group should also set higher standards by increasing government’s scrutiny on regular basis.
Responding to Usupashvili’s remarks, UNM MP Giorgi Gabashvili said during the debates: “You are not yet in the Champions League, but in qualifying rounds which you entered thanks to the previous [authorities]. But instead of playing on the level relevant to qualifying rounds, you [GD ruling coalition] are breaking legs of players from rival teams in the internal championship. You’d better take into consideration calls from the parliament speaker and learn how to play and how to work, otherwise you will bring nothing good to the country with this permanent confrontational mode.”
GD lawmaker Manana Kobakhidze, who is parliament’s vice speaker, said that she disagrees with Usupashvili. “I believe that we should respond adequately to all those false allegations, demagogy, which we hear from these people [UNM MPs],” she said.