Georgia's ruling party announced on August 1 its intention to launch impeachment proceedings against President Salome Zourabichvili, citing her visits to the European Union without the government's permission, the Georgian news agency Interpress reported.
The leader of the Georgian Dream party, Irakli Kobakhidze, accused President Zourabichvili of a "flagrant violation" of the constitution, according to Interpress sources.
President Zourabichvili recently met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Thursday and had a scheduled meeting with European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels on Friday. These meetings were aimed to garner support for Georgia's campaign to attain EU candidate status, with a decision expected by year-end.
Kobakhidze asserted that the government had previously sent a letter denying her permission to hold these meetings. In response, President Zourabichvili shared a photo on her Instagram account, depicting herself holding a smartphone and smiling.
Acknowledging the uphill battle, Kobakhidze admitted that the impeachment process is unlikely to succeed. Georgian Dream, holding only a simple majority in parliament, would need to secure votes from opposition parties for the impeachment to pass.
Elected in 2018 with the support of the Georgian Dream party, President Zourabichvili, a former French diplomat of Georgian descent, has since distanced herself from the party. She has repeatedly accused the Georgian Dream of pro-Russian tendencies and insufficient commitment to Georgia's aspirations to join the European Union and the Nato defence alliance. Georgian Dream has affirmed its desire for Georgia to become a member of both blocs.
The European Union, which declined Georgia's candidate status last year, alongside Ukraine and Moldova, has repeatedly cautioned against the deepening of authoritarianism in Georgia, emphasising that such a trajectory could jeopardise Georgia's EU application. Georgia hoped but failed to receive candidate status last year because of EU criticism of its democratic backsliding and polarisation.
European lawmakers reacted with astonishment to the Georgian government's move to punish the president for attempting to garner support for the country's candidate status.
MEP Miriam Lexmann described the impeachment initiative as "a completely absurd move". "[...] G[eorgian] D[ream] once again shows that it has no interest either in addressing political polarisation or in Georgia's European future," she said.
Georgian People. I stand in solidarity with President Zourabishvili, a true European leader,” said Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag Michael Roth