PM Ivanishvili said on April 29 that he “expressed suspicion”, but had never stated affirmatively that the previous government was “cooperating with terrorists”.
He made the remarks while speaking at NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Rose-Roth Seminar in Tbilisi. His remarks followed a question by UNM lawmaker Giorgi Baramidze, who asked the PM about his comments on April 26 in which he suggested that ongoing investigation into Lopota gorge clash might substantiate Public Defender’s allegations that the previous government trained and equipped militants to then send them to Russia’s North Caucasus.
“How justified and right do you think it is when the Prime Minister accuses its own country of supporting terrorism; do you think that it will be used by the Russian Federation – the occupant and aggressor country, against Georgia and how do you think it will contribute to Georgia’s NATO integration when you accuse your own country – no matter who was in power at the time – of supporting terrorism?” UNM MP Baramidze asked.
PM Ivanishvili responded: “I expressed my suspicion and I can reiterate it now that there is a ground to have such suspicion, but I do not claim it in any way and it has no affirmative form. Investigation is ongoing; there are too many questions, big misunderstandings happened in Lapankuri [referring to Lopota gorge clash].”
“I assure you – although assuring you is difficult,” Ivanishvili said referring to MP Baramidze, “but I assure the society that it will not damage our relations with anyone… We should live in justice and our actions should be based on truth.”
He said that Georgia’s reputation would be damaged if these allegations were investigated and confirmed by “third state”, but the process would not be damaging for Georgia if the country itself investigates the issue.
In his speech at the Rose-Roth Seminar Ivanishvili reiterated that Georgia was committed to NATO integration.
“We are realists and we understand very well that NATO integration is a gradual process and Georgia is ready to continue on this path. At the same time we also have an expectation that the Alliance will appropriately assess Georgia’s progress and reflect it in concrete decisions and by doing so will move forward our country’s integration into NATO,” Ivanishvili said.
“I believe that very soon time will come, when concrete steps will be made in direction of Georgia’s NATO membership,” he said.
Speaking at the same conference, Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili also stressed on Georgia’s NATO aspirations.
“It was President Shevardnadze who knocked on the door of NATO more than ten years ago. It was President Saakashvili who was notified about five years ago that that door was opened for us. Now Prime Minister Ivanishvili and myself have one question to you: can we enter in that door? Please tell us the answer sooner than later,” Usupashvili said.