Zelensky asks Georgian Ambassador to leave Ukraine within 48 hours for consultations over Saakashvili
Ukraine has issued a 48-hour notice for the Georgian ambassador to leave the country, following a statement from President Volodymyr Zelensky. The President demanded the extradition of Mikheil Saakashvili to Ukraine and extended an invitation to the Georgian ambassador for consultations in Tbilisi.
Zelensky made this announcement after Saakashvili’s remote participation in a court session.
In his statement, the President of Ukraine expressed his discontent with the treatment of Saakashvili by the Georgian authorities, accusing Russia of endangering the life of the Ukrainian citizen. He urged the official authorities in Tbilisi to cease this mistreatment and arrange for Saakashvili’s return to Ukraine.
Zelensky instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon the Georgian ambassador and convey a clear protest, offering him a period of 48 hours to leave Ukraine in order to hold consultations in Tbilisi. Additionally, the President reiterated his call for Georgia to extradite Saakashvili, emphasising the need for him to receive proper medical treatment and care in Ukraine.
Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed deep concern over Ukraine’s decision to temporarily remove the Georgian ambassador from the country for consultations. They considered this action an extreme escalation in diplomatic relations, expressing regret that Ukraine would take such a step against a friendly state and its people.
President of Moldova Maia Sandu, also voiced her concern regarding Saakashvili’s trial. She took to Twitter to express her deep concern over his deteriorating health, as evidenced by footage from the court. Sandu called on the Georgian authorities to take urgent action in response.
On July 7, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Ilia Darchiashvili, also responded to the decision of the Ukrainian authorities: “When evaluating the decision of the Ukrainian authorities to let our ambassador leave the territory of Ukraine, I would use a few words. This is unfair, baseless, unfriendly and undiplomatic […] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is not going to hold any consultations with the ambassador.”
Prime Minister of Estonia: Georgian government does not believe in NATO membership
According to Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kalas, the existence of “grey zones” in Europe contributes to conflicts and wars. She believes that incorporating these regions into NATO would eliminate such zones.
Kalas specifically mentioned Georgia as one of these “grey zones.” She also emphasised that Tbilisi needs to undertake reforms to progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
Comparing Georgia and Ukraine, Kalas expressed the opinion that Georgia finds itself in a position similar to where Ukraine was during the time of the Orange Revolution, with aspirations towards Europe (the EU). However, she stated that reforms are also necessary from Georgia’s side.
When asked why Ukraine and Georgia have taken different paths regarding NATO membership, the Estonian Prime Minister suggested that Georgia’s leadership currently lacks strong belief in NATO membership.
Referring to a statement made by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili at the GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava in May 2023, Kalas highlighted that Gharibashvili blamed NATO for the conflict in Ukraine. However, she emphasised that NATO is a defensive alliance and has not taken any provocative actions. Kalas noted that Gharibashvili’s speech conveyed a sense that Georgia’s leadership may not have confidence in NATO membership, citing it as a reason for the divergence between Ukraine and Georgia in their NATO aspirations
Tbilisi Pride Fest 2023 to be held on July 8
On July 8, Tbilisi Pride Fest 2023 will be held in Lisi Wonderland. According to the organisers, the festival is part of the fight for equality, visibility, freedom and love.
In a statement issued by the organisers, the Pride festival is described as “a unique opportunity for LGBTQ+ individuals to come together, unite, and freely express themselves. It serves as a respite from the unequal and unfair environment they often face.” The organisers invite everyone to join them for a colourful, glittering, and unforgettable time at Lisi Wonderland.
However, the far-right group Alt-Info has announced its intentions to disrupt Tbilisi Pride Fest 2023. Alt-Info leader Koka Morgoshia has stated that July 8 will be a significant day, comparable to the events of July 5, 2021, which marked a dark chapter for the LGBTQ+ community. The statement suggests that July 8 will be the final blow against the progress made since July 5, 2021.
In 2021, the March of Honor, a planned event for Tbilisi Pride, was cancelled due to violent incidents. Organisers decided not to proceed with the march after numerous people were assaulted, including minors, and significant property damage occurred. The police were criticised for not intervening to protect the victims.
On July 7, Tbilisi Pride released a statement addressing the festival. The organisation emphasised that certain ultra-right groups are misleading the public by spreading false information about a so-called gay parade. Tbilisi Pride clarified that no street march is planned, and the festival will take place in a private, closed area exclusively for registered guests.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement regarding the festival. According to the statement, to hold the event in a peaceful environment, “relevant police units will be mobilised at all necessary locations and will protect law and order and security within the scope of their competence.”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs calls on the organisers and participants of the anti-Pride Festival action to abide by the law, obey the legal requirements of the police and not exceed the scope of the right to assembly and demonstration permitted by law, otherwise, the police will act under their mandate.