Georgian government rejects EU’s financial aid
The Georgian government has said on August 31 they would not seek funds from the EU’s Macro-Financial Assistance programme, citing recent economic growth and a will to address the country’s external debt. The decision follows pressure from the EU on Georgian officials to pursue agreed reforms, writes OC Media.
„We are grateful to the EU for all their help that they provided during the pandemic, and generally, for everything they are doing for us. We have already decided to abstain from taking this second instalment as a debt,“ said Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili. The PM underlined that the upcoming €75 million from the EU was „not a grant or help“, but „debt“, as was the previous instalment.
The Prime Minister’s words come a day after ruling Georgian Dream party chair Irakli Kobakhidze announced the EU’s macro-financial assistance “lost its economic significance” after the economy saw a far bigger growth than initially expected, that brought additional GEL 1 billion (USD 320 mln) to the budget.
Charles Michel, European Council President, who led political crisis mediation efforts in Georgia, recently said the EU may cut EUR 75 million loan if Georgian authorities fail the court reform and refuse to commit to the April 19 EU-brokered deal. The EU and the U.S. strongly criticized Georgia’s Supreme Court appointments, noting the appointments went against April 19 deal, an assertion the GD government denies.
PM Gharibashvili accused the opposition of pushing the EU towards using the conditionality mechanism, noting that “our opponents have moved to the regime of sabotage to somehow… hinder our course towards the West”.
Gharibashvili’s decision was followed by criticism from MEPs Viola von Cramon (The Greens/EFA, Germany) and MEP Andrius Kubilius (EPP, Lithuania). Von Cramon argued on her Twitter that Georgia had not fulfilled the conditions anyway. “You can’t decline what you were not eligible for,” she wrote.
Georgian PM reacted with a statement that „a Member of the European Parliament is not his boss”. “Our bosses are the Georgian people,” the PM stressed, adding, “if they [MEPs] are actually interested in understanding the situation and the substance of the issue, they should look into it instead of making shallow statements,” he added.
In their turn, Georgia’s major opposition parties addressed European Union and NATO leaders with a joint letter, stressing that the Georgian Dream government’s “confrontational” refusal of the loan from the EU, conditioned on court reform and upholding Brussels-mediated April 19 deal, “constitutes the latest in a cascade of events that aim to thwart Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic path”.
Also, the Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has stated it is unclear for her and the public why the Georgian Dream government has refused to take the second tranche of the EU’s 150 million euro loan, which should have been addressed to decrease “the social and human damage that COVID has done to our population”.
Zurabishvili said that the reason cited by the government for the refusal – positive moves in the state economy and the wish to decrease the country’s foreign debt – is weak. She also said that “such unilateral decisions” affect the country’s reputation and discourage investors.