The Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, stated at the discussion held at the Global Security Forum that “one of the reasons” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the latter’s intention to join NATO.
The moderator of the discussion in Bratislava asked Prime Minister Garibashvili why, in his opinion, Russia had started the war in Ukraine, to which Garibashvili replied: “I think everyone knows the reason. One of the reasons was NATO, the expansion of NATO – isn’t that right?”
To the additional question of the moderator, whether he thought the expansion of NATO was a provocation for the war, Georgia’s PM said: “I don’t want to speculate on this, nor do I want to quote the Russian government, but one of the reasons was Ukraine’s will and intention to become a member of NATO, and that’s why we see these results.”
He added that it is probably the most challenging time since World War II.
“Although we had very difficult days in 2008, I want to remind everyone that the first war happened in Georgia. 20% of our territory is still occupied by Russia. They did not leave after the 2008 war, they stayed and built two military bases on our land.”
Garibashvili claimed that if Georgian Dream had been in government at that time, they would have done everything to avoid that war. He then turned to the issue of candidate status.
“I think it was an unfair and unjustified step. What message does this send to Russia? ‘We, the Europeans, are leaving Georgia, which is two or three times ahead of Ukraine and Moldova’? If we are talking about merit, it should have been awarded to Georgia, based on the work done. Let’s ask our European friends – why did they not give candidate status to Georgia? We have neither arguments nor explanations. Moldova and Ukraine were also given 12 priorities, but their status was given in advance. This is the difference. We don’t understand why. We were only told that Ukraine is at war. We were also at war in 2008, 20% of our land is still occupied, so where is the difference? Moldova is in a difficult situation – there is no element of rationality in that decision. If Georgia does not get this status by the end of the year, it will be a very big mistake,” the PM stated.
POLITICO wrote in response: “NATO aspirant country blames NATO for Russia’s war on Ukraine. Georgia wants to join the military alliance and the EU, but prime minister’s new remarks won’t go down well.”
Shalva Papuashvili, the Parliamentary Speaker, defended the PM, saying: “The Georgian PM’s comments on NATO enlargement, which he said was one of the pretexts for Russia invading Ukraine, resulted in various and largely mistaken or deliberately distorted interpretations. I believe Georgia has the right to have a say when it comes to regional and international security, and Mr Garibashvili’s words should be understood thus.”
MEP Miriam Lexmann later responded to these remarks with: “PM Garibashvili’s comments were not distorted. They were calculated, cynical and only serve the interests of one man while undermining those of the Georgian people. At what point do they contribute to helping Georgia achieve the 12 recommendations and moving forward with EU candidacy?”
“Говорит Москва! (Moscow speaking)” is how MEP Rasa Jukneviciene assessed the Georgian PM’s statement.