"West demands total obedience from Tbilisi"
    Georgian experts on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  19 June 2024 - 11:02

    Samir Ibrahimov

    Irakli Kadagishvili, an MP from "Georgian Dream" party, stated that the American National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) is assisting the radical opposition in conducting their pre-election campaign and plans to evaluate parliamentary elections afterward.

    According to him, this American non-governmental organization and the government of Britain have allocated funds for a campaign to explain to Georgian citizens the "harm of the foreign agents law." Members of the Georgian opposition will be involved in this effort.

    However, in the US, officials deny such statements made by Georgian authorities. "We are overwhelmed by and underequipped to deal with the disinformation that plagues us today," stated US Ambassador to Georgia Robin Dunnigan.

    “Disinformation is occurring about what it means to become a member of the European Union.  One thread of disinformation is that it means that you give up your identity, which is completely false…Unfortunately, there’s disinformation today about the United States’ relationship with Georgia.  There are some who claim that we are a global war party, or that we have tried to ferment revolution in this country, or that we have nefarious intentions here.  And truly, it’s heartbreaking to hear this because as the chancellor and rector both spoke about our history in this country over thirty-two years is a history of strong people-to-people, ties of deep friendships between Americans and Georgians, of partnerships in the medical field, in the education field, in sharing agriculture techniques, helping each other strengthen our defense forces.

    Over 32 years, we’ve provided $6 billion of assistance to Georgia.  That number doesn’t really tell the story though.  What tells the story is actually… it’s years and years of working together with individual universities, different organizations to help build the partnership that we share today.  So, it is heartbreaking and disappointing to hear a narrative that tries to paint a different picture than what we know is true,” said the ambassador.

    Earlier, the speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, called on the US authorities to disclose information about the funds coming from the American budget to Georgia. “To this day, it is hidden how these funds are spent, and then we accidentally learn that the money of American citizens is being used indirectly to finance parties, radical and disinformation groups, which casts a shadow on American assistance to Georgia,” Papuashvili said. He claimed that NDI does not disclose what exactly it funds in Georgia.

    How should we assess these accusations from representatives of the ruling party against NDI, the US, and Britain? What results might this situation lead to?

    To clarify these issues, Georgian experts provided their insights at the request of Caliber.Az.

    Political scientist and founder of the SIKHA Foundation research center, Archil Sikharulidze, noted that unfortunately, American and European embassies in Georgia misunderstand the situation to a great extent.

    "I see similarities here with what was happening in the early 2000s, when Russian diplomats literally claimed in the same style that Russia had invested billions in Georgia, that Georgia owed it for life, and without Russia, Georgia would cease to exist. Exactly the same narrative has somehow now been formed by Western diplomats — as if Georgians owe them everything and therefore have no right to criticize the West. The problem lies here and it is very serious because if previously, before the confrontation between Russia and the West, criticism of the West was more or less permissible, now essentially total, complete obedience is demanded from us," said the researcher.

    According to him, the struggle in Georgia is not about a pro-American or pro-Russian vector anymore, but about how its relations with the West will develop.

    "Will Georgia be subservient to the West (what people funded from there call strategic subservience)? In other words, should we nod our heads to everything the West proposes and be grateful for it, or should relations still look like a strategic partnership? Yes, we continue to integrate into the Western world, but we also have our own specific interests.

    As for the argument that European integration does not affect identity, to me, this seems absurd. How can one say such a thing when today's Europe largely relies on ethnic and sexual minorities, on the destruction of the classical understanding of the family, on things that contradict the values professed in the Caucasus, including religious ones? Undoubtedly, these things contrast with each other, and the fact that these topics are completely prohibited from being raised there again points to how serious problems Georgia faces.

    If Georgian society supports the country's integration into the European Union, it does not mean that it cannot set certain conditions. This is the crux of the struggle. There is actually no turning towards Moscow.

    Our American and European partners are under a false impression from what their Georgian advisors tell them. The latter are radically pro-Western citizens and they think that the rest of Georgians have the same attitude, that for the majority of Georgians European integration is an unconditional value and they are ready to do anything for the sake of it. But that's not the case," the political scientist emphasized.

    The problem here lies in the lack of understanding that for Georgians, integration into the EU does not mean capitulation, he said.

    "In other words, Georgia wants to become a member of the EU and NATO, but this does not mean abandoning sovereignty or its own way of thinking. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the West nominally demands from us. And it's no secret that Western partners actively finance all those NGOs that are present at rallies (and some even call for a coup)," Sikharulidze concluded.

    Shota Apkhaidze, political scientist, director of the Center for Islamic Studies of the Caucasus, expert of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, began by assessing the Americans' statement that they spent 6 billion in Georgia over 32 years.

    Political scientist and Director of the Center for Islamic Studies of the Caucasus, Shota Apkhaidze, began by assessing the statement made by Americans that they have spent 6 billion dollars in Georgia over 32 years.

    "Let them disclose where exactly this money was spent, who they gave it to. They certainly did not transfer this amount to the state budget; these funds were definitely not spent on Georgia's needs through governmental bodies. 90% of this sum went to financing NGOs. As a result, we have a rather complex picture. Americans are trying to prove that they allegedly invested money in the Georgian state, but this is absolutely not the case. In reality, they spent it on destructive political organizations, on NGOs that have been and continue to rock the political situation so that Americans have influence on the situation in Georgia. No one spent this money to change anything in the country for the better in practical terms. It has never happened.

    The US Ambassador behaves very arrogantly and she lies. Let her disclose official data, and then everyone will see what is really happening. There's no need to lie publicly, it's very bad. And I would like our country's leadership to take a very tough stance on statements by European Parliamentarians, American officials, so that in the end we defend our sovereignty.

    The current confrontation will definitely lead to a major political escalation with the West. So, there's still a lot ahead. I think a serious rift between Georgia and the West is expected," concluded the center's director.


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