“If we surrender now, it will mean the final collapse of democracy in Georgia”

Georgia Flag
Georgia Flag
Photo. Wikipedia Commons

Why did protests break out in Tbilisi and why „The Georgian government does not represent Georgian society”? Interview with Ana Tsitlidze, Georgian politician, member of the largest opposition party (United National Movement), serving as a member of parliament since 2020, about the controversial law on foreign agents.

Last year, Georgia obtained the status of an EU country, in addition, parliamentary elections will be held in a few months and everything indicates that the Georgian Dream could easily defeat its opponents. This week, the government introduced the controversial „Foreign Agents Law”, which led to huge demonstrations in Tbilisi. What was the reason for these riots and what is the current situation in Georgia?


Georgians are now fighting for freedom and European values. Hundreds of thousands of Georgians have been protesting against Russian law for a month now. Despite this and international calls, the Georgian government adopted this new law. What will happen in Georgia now? Georgians will not stop, because for us we are fighting for our freedom and our European integration and there is no turning back. We will continue to oppose despite the brutal repression and the fact that Ivanishvili’s special forces brutally beat opposition political leaders, civic activists and young people. The Georgian Dream statement is more reminiscent of Russian or Belarusian officials. In the European Union, geographical location does not matter. It’s about values, and Georgia with its unique culture and unique history is part of the old European civilization.

Who or what is being targeted by this new law?

The main problem is that the country that was the leader of the Eastern Partnership after 2012 became an oligarch system ruled by a pro-Russian oligarchs. „The big plan” of Russia is to push Georgia away from European integration. After 2012, the Georgian Dream turned from the West to Russia. We now have political prisoners, among others Mikheil Saakashvili, our former president, who strongly advocated for greater integration with the EU. Other politicians are being prosecuted for political or criminal reasons. They attacked free media, and now they have decided to attack and close down non-governmental organizations. Ivanishvili believes that NGOs will be a problem in the upcoming elections, which will be held in October 2024.


How would you describe the foreign policy of the Georgian Dream after February 2022?

The statement of Georgian Dream officials after the start of the war in Ukraine was so clear that they openly said that they would not join the sanctions against Russia and blamed the EU, USA, Ukraine for leading to an open war. They blamed them for needing a second front in Georgia and wanting a revolution in Georgia. Relations between Russian and Georgian officials look very strange. This is not the time to restore visa-free travel with Russia when other countries have finally recognized it as a terrorist state. This is not the time to strengthen trade relations with Russia. It should not happen.

Is there a willingness in Georgia to join NATO?

Oo course, our aspiration is to join NATO. NATO means stability and security for us, and Georgia is a small country in a very specific region and NATO could be a guarantor of our independence and our freedom. It is very obvious that this is a problem for Russia, because in its opinion, NATO expansion is directed against it. This is the same case as with Ukraine. For Russia, all these countries should be still under its influence.

Do you think that during the rule of the Georgian Dream there is any possibility of joining NATO or the EU. They claim so, but is it even possible?

What we have now is a country under Russian rule. This is not the government of Georgia. It should be called a „Russian Dream” rather than a Georgian Dream, because the goals and actions are, in short, the same as Russians. It is impossible to become a member of the EU and NATO with the current government, and our international partners have no doubts about it. They don’t need any new problem inside. They already have Orban and they don’t need another person like him. Therefore, a change of government in Georgia is crucial now.


Is it possible for the opposition to win the elections in October 2024?

Honestly, it will be very difficult because we have an oligarch system that has Special Forces at its disposal who will certainly try to undermine the legitimacy of the elections. Sanctions imposed on individuals would be a stimulus for change. We need to destroy the closest circle to Ivanishvili, making him weak, because at the moment he thinks he can do whatever he wants, even if it means violating the rights of Georgians.

How do this year’s elections differ from previous ones?

There was a lot of violence against opposition leaders during the last elections, and the Georgian Dream rigged the election results. Also, Previously, Ivanishvili’s image was different. Unfortunately, the International Community was very naive and believed that he was the pro-European future of Georgia, and he simply hid his true colors. He has money and business in Russia and will do anything to increase Russian influence. Currently even among some former supporters of the Georgian Dream, there is a change in attitude. Now the government only has special forces and all administrative resources.

Both EU political representatives and individual Member States expressed solidarity with the Georgian people. But sometimes words are not enough. Georgian society is aware of the complexity of the EU membership process, which will most likely take many years. What do Georgians expect from the EU?

We need more concrete steps and actions because sometimes there are times when words are not enough. We need the international community to impose sanctions on Ivanishvili, his family and the representatives of the special forces responsible for the brutal fights against peacefully demonstrating citizens. People will never forget what the Special Forces did to them, how they were beaten and arrested. The voices of young people who grew up in independent Georgia are being raised. They don’t know Russian. Their second language is English, French or any other European language. The Georgian government is not the Georgian people. Here, over 80% of Georgians are in favor of greater integration with the European Union. If we, the people protesting now, surrender, it will mean the final collapse of democracy in Georgia.