Georgia, once a beacon of democracy, is fading

In May 2005, addressing a cheering crowd in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, then US President George W. Bush called the country a “beacon of democracy”. Since then, however, Georgia’s trajectory has changed.

Greek statesman Alcibiades cut off his dog’s tail to get the public talking about the animal’s deformity rather than its incompetence. It’s the oldest trick in the book for desperate politicians: diverting the public’s attention from reality to something irrelevant while trying to confuse everyone.

In this regard, the latest strategy of Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream, is to write antagonistic statements and letters about the United States and the European Union in a deployment of writings where they use the weakest evidence to hide their unforgivable purpose.

However, they reveal their true nature to us: national populists who refuse to accept the new realities, trying instead to impose their alternative and anachronistic narratives, manipulating the past and rewriting the facts.

These “authors” just stopped short of asking for the “denazification” of the US and EU and the need for a “special military operation” to make their intentions and origins 100% transparent.

A toxic political culture

On June 23, the European Union refused to grant Georgia candidate status, an important step towards full membership. Two other ex-Soviet countries, Ukraine and Moldova, have become candidates. Our three countries had developed relations with the bloc at a similar pace. In 2014, we all signed association agreements with the EU to encourage political collaboration and economic integration. More than 80% of Georgians want EU membership and last month’s setback sparked anti-government protests in the capital Tbilisi.

Where Ukraine and Moldova have become candidates, Georgia has been offered a lesser offer: a “prospect” of membership, which means that it can also become a candidate if it fulfills certain conditions, such as a commitment to “deoligarchize” the state system before the end of the year (now postponed to mid-2023).

Five or six years ago, this would have been a surprise: Georgia seemed to have the clearest path forward. But today, a polarized and resentful ruling class has left the country further from EU membership than its counterparts.

The country’s pugnacious prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, lashed out at EU and US officials when they dare to criticize his government’s actions. Among the 12 conditions the EU has asked Georgia to meet to qualify for candidate status, it specifically mentions polarization – a reference to Georgia’s toxic political culture – as an obstacle to being granted candidate status. candidate in the country.

Yet, speaking in parliament just after the European Commission published its recommendations for Georgia, Garibashvili doubled down and called opposition politicians ‘traitors’, ‘enemies’ and ‘maniacs’. .

Let’s be clear: the EU’s assessment of Georgia’s membership status should not be presented as a confrontation between the US/EU and the Georgian people. Instead, it was the decision of leading democratic nations to expose Georgia’s flawed democratic sovereign government, led behind the scenes by an oligarch with alleged ties to the Kremlin. In the balance are the real dreams of the Georgian people of a democratic government without an oligarchic regime.

“It’s my duty to ask for forgiveness”

I deeply regret these letters. It’s not clear how I should apologize, when even though it’s essential, it’s not really my fault. However, on behalf of the citizens of Georgia, it is my duty to apologize to our friends and partners in the United States and the European Union.

Unlike our government, these are not empty words: I promise to devote all my efforts as a member of the Georgian parliament and one of the leaders of the opposition party to ensure that hate speech is completely banned ; ultranationalist ideology will be monitored after the next elections; and paranoia and propaganda will not be a basis for governing this country.

Some people subordinate their political beliefs to facts, failing under confirmation bias, because being wrong and being guilty is neurologically unpleasant. In the aforementioned letters, anti-American imperialism is a place where Vladimir Putin’s proxies discern the motives of their actions and their consequences, finding relief in blaming those they despise. One could say that the Wall fell in Berlin, but not in the weak minds of the Georgian Dream party.

They decided to blame the US and the EU for the damage they themselves inflicted on Georgia. A better course of action would have seen Georgia’s prime minister and president apologize for their mistakes: mistakes that delayed Georgian integration into the EU.

More importantly, they must firmly reject being puppets for a Russian-affiliated oligarch. Finally, they must guarantee our security, rather than attacking the only ones who will protect us.

As representatives of the Georgian people, we truly apologize for this madness, where the US and the EU are plotting against us. In fact, these global players are trying to destroy it rather than support it. We can also promise today that we will not rest until Georgia becomes part of the western family. We also dare to ask you: please do not follow the goal of the Georgian dream and turn your back on us. The will of the Georgian people is strong.

Georgians believe a better future is possible

Georgia is no longer a Soviet satellite, but since 1991, a sovereign state. Thereafter, according to the rules of the current world order, he can make any decision as long as he respects the rule of law, whether any other expansionist state likes it or not. Each country has the right to choose its own destiny, joining any economic, political, cultural or military organization.

Accordingly, we, the people of Georgia, call for international law to be fully implemented in Georgia and our neighboring countries and territories, in particular international criminal law (the Rome Statute) and international humanitarian law (the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the protection of civilians in conflicts and the additional protocols of 1977 and 2005), which govern relations between States, international crimes – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression – and the effects of armed conflicts.

The will of Georgian citizens is clear: to join the West and its political organizations, such as the European Union or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Georgian people have proven that we are burden-sharing partners. We were the largest non-member contributors in Afghanistan (NATO mission) and Central Africa (EU mission). Our men and women in uniform sacrificed their lives for the better future of our common Euro-Atlantic family. We believe that a better future is possible. In fact, our only possible future is based on joining the West.

Don’t blame the US, EU or anyone else

In the meantime, the current government of Georgia acts as if we still belong to the Russian sphere of influence. We have heard in the last 10 years enough dismal calls for slacking off, the horrible position of the Georgian dream, reinterpreting our neighborly relations from pure submission. If you are against their approach, you “polarize”.

On the other hand, the various signatories and their administrators should address the Georgian people and any other recipient, only to apologize. To express that their path will now be negotiation, diplomacy, politics, international organizations, international law, rather than revealing private meetings, or applauding each other’s absurd communications. They should listen to the cry of the Georgian people: the Soviet empire has collapsed and we want to join NATO to protect ourselves from its ruins.

The Georgian Dream is still at home under Russian management. But we, the people of Georgia, are not. We demand today, once again, our right to make our own decisions without any historical anchoring. There is a fact: all the former countries which were under Soviet influence, without exception, have developed considerably since their attachment to the West. We want the same for our beloved country.

Nobody in Georgia forced Irakli Garibashvili and his superior to his approach of appeasement towards Russia. No one should therefore blame the US, the EU or others, but admit their guilt and ask for forgiveness. They can pretend that everyone is blind, with one-sided, wrongly claimed, distorted arguments. But, we, a small but proud country, will continue our fight, with our allies and remembering the words of the Bard:

“From that day until the end of the world,

But we will be reminded of it;

Some of us, some of us are happy, we band of brothers”.

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