TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian prime minister has accused opposition MPs of influencing members of the European Parliament to not accept visa-free travel for Georgian citizens as long as the current government is in power.
PM Irakli Garibashvili said during a cabinet meeting Thursday morning that his government has done its best during the last three years to fulfill every obligation related to visa liberalization with the European Union, but that the government’s efforts have been undermined by the National Movement, which was in power from 2004 to 2012.
He accused two members of the National Movement, Davit Bakradze and Giorgi Kandelaki, of ‘betrayal’, and cited sources in the EU who had told members of his cabinet about the alleged sabotage of visa-free travel.
“They were astonished asking whether they [Bakradze and Kandelaki] are citizens of Georgia – but the two responded that it wasn’t desirable that Georgia gets visa free travel during the rule of the current government,” he said.
Bakradze, a former speaker of parliament who is now parliamentary leader of the UNM, responded that visa liberalization has one ‘true threat’, which is the government’s domestic policy and their attempt to take over Rustavi 2, the last TV channel in Georgia still loyal to former President Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the UNM and currently governor of the Odessa region in Ukraine.
Garibashvili’s barrage was backed by several members of the cabinet, but the minister for economic development said he has also been to Brussels and hasn’t heard anything about the allegations.
Kandelaki drew attention to the fact that it was during the National Movement government that Georgia launched negotiations with the EU about visa liberalization, a policy which the party supports because the Georgian people deserves it.