Why Russia occupied our territories, asks Georgian Parliament official during speech in Brussels

Tbilisi: The Chairman of the Georgian Parliament Committee, Maia Bitadze, attended the 12th session of the European Union-Georgian Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC) held in Brussels. In her speech, Bitadze voiced against Russian occupation of Georgian territories  and Georgia’s EU Integration, stressing that Euro-Atlantic integration is the only way for the country.

As Maia Bitadze stated:  “I am a politician, a citizen of Georgia, I have raised Georgians and I have one question: What is the reason why Russia occupied Georgian territories? Why did Russia start several wars in Georgia in the 1990s and then in 2008, why did we embargo, why do we have refugees and why do we have fear every day that Russia will attack us? Is there any other answer to this? 

 I really wish I had a more clear answer to this. As Russia occupied our territories, it thinks we are their buffer zone and any other kind of integration will lead to further conflict with them. 

I hear that now the EU and our other partners may regret not imposing enough sanctions on Russia in the 90s, 2008 or Ukraine during the First War in 2014. But here today, you all must understand how much we do and how hard we try to be EU members; on the other side, we have internal political turbulence.

 Everyone knows that one of the causes of the occupation of Georgian territories by Russia was the push to integrate the country into NATO. Therefore, we all grew up and raised our children with the idea and fear that being part of NATO and the EU will cause conflict with Russia. The whole world was talking about this even after the collapse of the USSR, but today we have heard other opinions here.

 I understand that we live in the era of headlines, but there are essential, important issues too. We are also part of political sanctions against Russia; we do not carry sanctioned cargo. 

Everyone knows we do a lot in this area but imagine every day we try to protect ourselves from fake headlines, and it’s hard. Sometimes this leads to disappointment not only for ourselves and politicians but also for society.

First of all, we have nine parties in Parliament, and we have over 100 broadcasters, and that’s a fact because everything is transparent.

 It is the first time in Georgia that we are so transparent and open for multi-political dialogue, including with our opposition, but again these “fake” headlines and the desire of the biggest opposition party to return to the head of the country ruins everything.

 I can talk a lot about important issues, I can talk for progress even in my field of Parliament, where I am chairing the environment committee. I can say a lot about our desire to be members of the EU and how much we have been doing since 2012 when we started implementing the Association Agreement project.

How much have we done for the implementation of the Association Contract in different spheres, and why we have such progress? I want to emphasize one thing: never a single official in Georgia said that the EU Or Any of our other partners wants to open a second front in Georgia. 

Unfortunately, we have heard similar statements from very high Ukrainian officials.

 Peace and stability are very important for us because I would like to remind you once again that, unlike other post-Soviet countries, we are not under the umbrella of NATO and we are not members of the EU; we do a lot to be a member of the European family. 

We are trying to protect ourselves from Russia, which has occupied 20% of our territories, we are trying to protect internally displaced persons, some of whom live in Russia, and we are also trying to protect the stability and peace that we have for the first time in 15 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s hard to find the best way to maintain stability amid the political turbulence and “fake headlines” that cover so much area via the media.

I reiterate how much we value partnership with the EU, years of work and cooperation to finally be within the EU’s “political borders”. How much we have done with the support of the EU to be on the most important path for our country.

 Also, I’d like to state that the statements I’m hearing are nothing short of offensive and disappointing. For your information, some of the statements we heard from our opposition colleagues at today’s session are steps towards polarization, not depolarization.”

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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