Why Did Georgian Government Need a Pre-failed Impeachment Attempt?
Monday, 23 October 2023
The first-ever impeachment attempt against President Salome Zourabichvili in the history of Georgia failed last week. The reason was her visits to Europe against the government's will. The ruling party Georgian Dream lacked the necessary votes.
Despite the formal failure, the ruling party achieved some success. They made it difficult for Zourabichvili's future visits and now threaten her with criminal prosecution.
The Georgian government's decision not to allow the president to make international visits was prompted by her public criticism of the progress in fulfilling the "homework" for EU candidate status. She also stated that "vague foreign policy" hinders progress toward EU membership.
The government interpreted this criticism as sabotaging European integration because these statements directly contradicted their claims that Georgia is a leader in implementing European reforms, surpassing Ukraine, Moldova. They insist that the refusal to grant candidate status is only due to political reasons: refusing to open a "second front" in the war against Russia and opposition intrigues and their friends in Brussels.
However, Salome Zourabichvili was not deterred by the government's refusal. She referred to another constitutional norm stating that state officials should do everything possible to achieve EU membership for Georgia.
The head of state embarked on a tour to the EU. The Georgian authorities consider these visits a blatant violation of the constitution. More importantly, the Constitutional Court agrees with these arguments.
The idea of impeachment initially seemed utterly utopian. Georgian Dream has a simple majority in parliament, but a constitutional majority was required for this.
Despite the impeachment idea not working, the Georgian government has partially achieved its goal.
Firstly, they have a Constitutional Court decision that will clearly complicate the president's future international contacts.
Of course, these contacts will continue. The opposition had already directly called on Zourabichvili to do so. It seems she is heeding this advice.
Secondly, the Georgian government will be able to blame the president and the opposition in case the EU refuses to grant candidate status. Moreover, the mere fact of an impeachment attempt increases the chances of an EU refusal.
Furthermore, they can accuse European countries of allegedly demanding not only the "opening of a second front" against Russia but also violating the norms of the Georgian constitution.