Three lawmakers from opposition Free Democrats (FD) party, led by ex-defense minister Irakli Alasania, announced on February 23 about stepping down from their parliamentary posts.
Free Democrats held three parliamentary posts: MP Victor Dolidze was chairman of the committee for European integration; MP Davit Onoprishvili chaired the committee for finance and budgetary issues, and MP Gia Tsagareishvili was chairman of the committee for environment protection and natural resources.
Last week Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group recalled MP Zurab Abashidze of FD party from vice speaker’s position, replacing him by its lawmaker Gubaz Sanikidze of National Forum party. MP Abashidze held the vice speaker’s position from the quota of the GD parliamentary majority group, but after FD party quit the GD ruling coalition in November, GD became eligible to replace Abashidze; but the same did not apply to committee chairs and three FD MPs were eligible to retain their posts.
By quitting parliamentary committee chairmanship posts, FD also lost three seats in the parliamentary bureau – a body uniting senior lawmakers, setting Parliament’s weekly working agenda.
In a statement on February 23, FD party said that despite of a campaign launched by the authorities against its leader Irakli Alasania four months ago, FD lawmakers “put aside our party interests and deemed it reasonable to continue at least in the legislative body efforts for implementing commitments related to foreign and internal affairs that we undertook before the population, when we were part of the [GD] coalition.”
But, it said, instead of addressing challenges facing the country through “maximum consolidation” of efforts of all the political forces, the authorities opted in favor of “internal political struggle” and sacked FD MP Zurab Abashidze from vice speaker’s position.
FD said in the statement that its lawmakers decided to quit parliamentary posts and to oppose government’s policies “even more actively to force it take meaningful steps immediately in order to overcome extremely difficult economic situation and implement commitments in respect of country’s foreign policy priorities.”
In the statement FD also criticize the authorities for, as it put it, “voicing capitulant messages” towards Russia. FD and UNM opposition parties have strongly condemned recent remarks by PM’s special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, in which he said that Georgia’s cooperation with NATO does not aim at deploying alliance’s “military infrastructure” in Georgia. The Georgian diplomat made the remarks in response to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said that Moscow would take measures in response to efforts to “drag Tbilisi into NATO.”