June 2, 2023

Irakli Garibashvili says Georgian residents and the nation’s financial system will undergo if Tbilisi imposes sanctions on one among its largest buying and selling companions.

Doha, Qatar The Prime Minister of Georgia mentioned that the imposition of sanctions in opposition to Russia would “destroy” Tbilisi’s financial system and “harm the pursuits” of Georgian residents.

Russia is amongst Georgia’s fundamental buying and selling companions, however relations between the 2 nations have lengthy been strained.

Georgia’s annual commerce with Russia is “lower than $1 billion,” Irakli Garibashvili mentioned on the Qatar Financial Discussion board in Doha on Wednesday. It is humorous, is not it? This 1 billion {dollars} couldn’t have an effect on the Russian financial system.”

For comparability, the European Union trades with Russia in simply 4 days, the identical quantity as we commerce in a yr. The place is the logic once we are known as to impose sanctions in opposition to Russia?

He additionally drew a comparability between the worldwide response to the 2008 Russo-Georgian struggle and the battle in Ukraine, stating “Has anybody imposed sanctions on Russia due to our struggle?” Nobody on this planet has formally responded.

“The place is the logic “our struggle just isn’t a struggle”, however in Ukraine it exists.”

In a multi-day struggle in August 2008, Russia invaded Ukraine and ultimately took management of two breakaway areas, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Ever for the reason that battle in Ukraine started, Georgia, a former Soviet nation, has been balancing between its neighbor and its need to affix the European Union.

When Russia ordered partial mobilization final yr, 1000’s of unwilling folks rushed to Georgia looking for asylum.

Earlier this month, Tbilisi lifted the Russian flight ban following a choice by Moscow.

However the two nations didn’t preserve diplomatic relations after the 2008 struggle.

“Georgia is in a particularly tough scenario due to our geographical place, due to the continuing occupation,” Garibashvili mentioned.

Whereas public assist for Ukraine is robust in Georgia, critics of the prime minister and his ruling Kartuli Otneba (Georgian Dream) social gathering counsel they’re pro-Russian.

Opposition activists protest in opposition to the choice of the Georgian authorities to concern permission to the Russian airline Azimuth to function direct flights between Russia and Georgia exterior the parliament constructing in Tbilisi, Georgia. [Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters]

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili and the EU condemned the choice to fly at a time when the bloc’s airspace stays closed to Russian plane in response to their invasion of Ukraine.

“The transfer raises considerations about Georgia following the trail of the EU and its dedication to overseas coverage alignment with the EU,” EU spokesman for overseas affairs Peter Stano mentioned.

In Doha, Garibashvili defended the resumption of flights.

“We didn’t say that we’d cease financial relations with Russia… Many nations fly with Russia,” Garibashvili mentioned.

This struggle impacts all of us politically. We all know that at present about 20 % of the territory of Ukraine is occupied by Russia. That is the established order for at present.

“Sadly, we’ve not seen any indicators that this struggle will finish quickly. That is drawback.”

Reporting by Hafsa Adil in Doha.

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