PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said that a letter in which 23 members of the European Parliament were criticizing him was “shameful” and accused its authors of “living on Saakashvili’s lies”.
In the letter to the Georgian PM on March 6, 23 MEPs, 19 of them from the European People’s Party (EPP) group, accuse Ivanishvili of drifting Georgia away from Europe. In a response letter on March 10 the Georgian Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Usupashvili, slammed MEPs for “unsubstantiated claims” and called on them to abstain from signing such statements in order not to feel then “embarrassed” for such action.
Asked by journalists after a meeting with a group of civil society representative on March 12, whether the tone of Usupashvili’s letter was acceptable for him, Ivanishvili responded: “It’s very much acceptable. We are speaking in a very good and understandable language with Europe.”
He said that the key points of Usupashvili’s letter sent to 23 MEPs were drafted personally by him.
“Even sharper letter will be published on my behalf. I have not responded that small group of [MEPs] personally; I am preparing broader letter addressing to the entire [European] People’s Party and you will see that it will be even sharper than [the one sent by Usupashvili]. Being European does not mean they are all democrats and that they all should teach us. That letter published by 23 MEPs was shameful… We are not afraid to tell the truth to Europe. Saakashvili hoped that we would not have dared to engage in debate, but now time has come and we will [tell] the truth to those Europeans, who still live on Saakashvili’s lies.”
Ivanishvili said that his letter to EPP would be published in few days; he also said that “the only problem” that delayed publishing of this letter in the Western press was that “it’s too lengthy”.
“Not a single newspaper wants to publish such voluminous letter… The Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal – all are interested in publishing this letter, but they are telling us to publish only third of it,” Ivanishvili said.
Ivanishvili, who discussed constitutional reform during a meeting with civil society representatives on March 12, said that upcoming parliamentary vote on Georgian Dream-proposed constitutional changes would be a test for President Saakashvili’s UNM party itself. The Georgian Dream coalition is expected to put on vote in the Parliament later this month constitutional amendment stripping President Saakashvili of his right to dismiss the government and appoint new one without Parliament’s approval. Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream coalition falls short of 100 seats in the Parliament required for passing constitutional amendment, said that if UNM lawmakers refuse to support the proposal it would do no harm to his government, but would damage UNM itself as not supporting scrapping of such an undemocratic constitutional provision would amount to political self-destruction for the UNM.
“They will even be expelled from the EPP,” Ivanishvili said.
UNM, chaired by President Saakashvili, is an observer member of EPP.