On the eve of planned protest rally in the Tbilisi center by opposition UNM party, PM Irakli Garibashvili released a written statement saying that his government does “not turn a blind eye as Russia continues to blatantly violate core principles of international law.”
UNM plans the rally on November 15 to protest against Russia’s “attempt to annex” Georgia’s breakaway regions and against, what it calls, government’s inaction to counter these attempts by Russia.
The Interior Ministry said that traffic will be closed on the Rose Square and Rustaveli Avenue from noon on November 15 and traffic will be “partially restricted” on the Freedom Square.
In the statement PM Garibashvili said that the rally was organized by the political group whose policies, when it was in power, “contributed to the occupation” of Georgia’s territories by Russia as a result of the August, 2008 war. He said that the Georgian government will “ensure the unconditional protection” of freedom of expression and expressed hope that the planned rally will be peaceful, without any incidents. Representatives of UNM and the Interior Ministry met on November 14 and discussed the planned rally.
“I reiterate that the government steadfastly pursues its path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration; this process is irreversible. Obviously, we may encounter numerous obstacles on this path, and we must overcome them with dignity,” PM Garibashvili said in his statement.
“Our government clearly sees the threat of annexation of Georgiaâ€™s occupied territories, which undermines Georgiaâ€™s statehood and unity. We do not turn a blind eye as Russia continues to blatantly violate core principles of international law and offers the Abkhazians a form of relations that will not only be assessed as a step toward annexation, but will also threaten the Abkhazian nation with extinction.”
“I would like to assure everyone that we have employed every international mechanism and addressed international organizations and the international community as a whole, appealing to them to treat this issue with special consideration. We are convinced that our Western friends and partners will spare no effort to stave off every attempt at the blatant violation of our countryâ€™s sovereignty and territorial integrity. I am convinced that our Abkhazian brothers and sisters will never tolerate this either, that they will exercise prudence and tie their future to Georgia,” the PM said.
“I do not think that anyone can overlook the tightrope Georgia is walking today. Radicalism is absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible in our country today. Any step other than a peaceful, prudent, and pragmatic policy may lead us to grave consequences. Imprudent actions and radicalism led Georgia to the 2008 war. This must serve as an example to everyone; we cannot build our decision making upon emotions.”
“I have no doubt that each Georgian citizen aspires to see Georgiaâ€™s territorial integrity and the countryâ€™s de-occupation ensured. This is exactly why it is totally unacceptable when one political party or another gives itself credit for a nationwide protest rally against the countryâ€™s annexation, [and in] this way identifying the notion of the countryâ€™s unity only with itself. Yet, such an attempt is made by people whose policy contributed to the occupation of twenty percent of the countryâ€™s territories, resulting in the deaths of hundreds, the loss of Kodori, Akhalgori and more than a hundred villages, and in tens of thousands of refugees.”
“Nonetheless, our government respects the will of every citizen to express his or her opinion. This right of our citizens is enshrined in the constitution, and the government will ensure the unconditional protection of their freedom of expression,” reads PM’s statement. “I urge the law enforcements to maintain public order at tomorrowâ€™s rally and address any violation that may compromise our citizensâ€™ freedom of expression. I hope that the rally will prove peaceful, without any incidents, and that our country once again proves its commitment to democratic principles.”