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Georgia: Former parliament speaker says govt’s ‘catastrophic incompetence’ to blame for Tbilisi protest *PARTNER CONTENT*

Georgia, Tbilisi
June 21, 2019 at 10:41 GMT +00:00 · Published

Leader of the Georgian opposition party Democratic Movement and former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze blamed the government of “catastrophic incompetence” over the protest that took place outside the Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi on Thursday.

Burjanadze said she had predicted the anti-government protest, since “It’s absolutely unbelievable, how incompetent the government is. And it is clear for me that the government did nothing for the improvement of Russian-Georgian relations during the last few years.”

The former acting head of state said added that Tbilisi needed to explain to Moscow the importance of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

She pointed out that Russia-Georgia relations are still “a very difficult and sensitive issue for Georgian society” following the South Ossetia conflict in 2008.

At least 240 people, including 80 police officers were injured as anti-government protesters clashed with the law enforcement officials outside the parliament building in Tbilisi on Thursday evening and in the early hours of Friday morning.

The crowd attempted to force their way into the parliament building as they demanded the resignation of parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze and other top officials.

The rally began after Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov addressed the audience from the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker during the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy on Thursday. A number of Georgian opposition politicians left the session in protest.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakhaber Kaladze said it was "unacceptable to hold the assembly "under the leadership of a Russian speaker."

The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the protest in a statement, saying that “the radical opposition in Georgia has exploited an important international forum, aimed at uniting the Orthodox nations of the world, to unleash its anti-Russian sentiment.”

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Leader of the Georgian opposition party Democratic Movement and former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze blamed the government of “catastrophic incompetence” over the protest that took place outside the Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi on Thursday.

Burjanadze said she had predicted the anti-government protest, since “It’s absolutely unbelievable, how incompetent the government is. And it is clear for me that the government did nothing for the improvement of Russian-Georgian relations during the last few years.”

The former acting head of state said added that Tbilisi needed to explain to Moscow the importance of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

She pointed out that Russia-Georgia relations are still “a very difficult and sensitive issue for Georgian society” following the South Ossetia conflict in 2008.

At least 240 people, including 80 police officers were injured as anti-government protesters clashed with the law enforcement officials outside the parliament building in Tbilisi on Thursday evening and in the early hours of Friday morning.

The crowd attempted to force their way into the parliament building as they demanded the resignation of parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze and other top officials.

The rally began after Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov addressed the audience from the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker during the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy on Thursday. A number of Georgian opposition politicians left the session in protest.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakhaber Kaladze said it was "unacceptable to hold the assembly "under the leadership of a Russian speaker."

The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the protest in a statement, saying that “the radical opposition in Georgia has exploited an important international forum, aimed at uniting the Orthodox nations of the world, to unleash its anti-Russian sentiment.”

*NO CUTAWAYS AT SOURCE* *JUMPCUTS AT SOURCE*

SOT, Nino Burjanadze, Georgian politician and former parliamentary speaker: You know, the problem is that in Georgia we receive grave consequences of the informal ruling, which we have in our country. And this is what I have predicted because I saw catastrophic incompetence of the government, which lead the country to the serious crisis. And it was absolutely clear for everybody that the situation, which we received today in the morning, when we saw the Russian MP in the chair of the head of the parliament, which is the symbol of Georgia and the Georgian status. It will be very difficult to see for Georgian people because the pain which we received in 2008, during the Russian-Georgian war is still very big. And the problems in Abkhazia and the so called South Ossetia are not solved. And these Russian-Georgian relations are really a very difficult and sensitive issue for Georgian society. And most of the population received this message, seeing Russian MP in the chair of Georgian speaker, as something, which is creating a problem for the stability of the country, or something which is touching independence and sovereignty of the country. And it was easy to predict from the side of the government, but it’s absolutely unbelievable, how incompetent is the government. And it is absolutely clear for me that the government did nothing for the improvement of Russian-Georgian relations during the last few years. So, there was nothing positive in that direction. And of course, the reaction of the people was really painful and so emotional from the side of the Georgian population.

SOT, Nino Burjanadze, Georgian politician and former parliamentary speaker: Of course, the political parties are quite active, especially some political parties, who are calling themselves as the pro-western, and trying right now to use this sincere pain of the people in their political goals. And to strengthen these anti-Russian feelings, which exist in the serious part of the Georgian population.

SOT, Nino Burjanadze, Georgian politician and former parliamentary speaker: So, we need to explain to the Russian Federation that for improvement of the Russian-Georgian relations, it is very important to understand how important for Georgia is territorial integrity and sovereignty. I know that this dialogue will not be easy. And the dialogue is not easy when the problems existed for a long time, but, nevertheless, I do not see any other possibility, and dialogue is only one way in diplomacy, and in a peaceful world to solve the problems despite of the difficulties.

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