To keep the public informed, we are addressing the baseless accusations propagated by the Speaker of the Parliament and endorsed by the members of the Georgian Dream party against Civic IDEA and its founder, Tinatin Khidasheli. Although our initial response to Speaker’s remarks was promptly conveyed to an attentive audience on the same day by two long TV interviews (see hyperlinks for TV Pirveli & Formula), we’ve since endured a 4-day continuous incessant, aggressive allegations and insults. In our forthcoming response, we aim to provide a more factual and less emotionally charged counterargument.
First and foremost, it is crucial to emphasize that “Civic IDEA” remains committed to uncovering any government involvement in shady dealings with the companies marred by damaged reputations, scandals, and international sanctions for corruption. We will persist in conducting thorough, evidence-based research, dedicated to keeping the public well- informed. Clearly lacking substantiated evidence, the Georgian Dream resorts to direct attacks, threats, and smear campaigns orchestrated by MPs, Tbilisi City Mayer and government controlled TV channels, as well as trolls as their primary tools. Nevertheless, we firmly believe that such tactics cannot intimidate or silence us.
We have chosen the name Civic IDEA – Civic Initiative for Democratic, Euro- Atlantic Choice, for a reason. All our projects and activities align with the objectives outlined in this title and the democratic, Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people. Therefore, we scrutinize and assess the government’s actions that appear to distance the country from the West and align it more closely with Russia.
What we say and how the government responds:
Over the past seven years, we have consistently brought to light the government’s shady undertakings, substantiating claims of corruption with concrete facts and documents while unveiling the falsehoods and misinformation propagated by them.
1. All Chinese companies, to which the government of Georgia is granting multi- million dollar contracts, have a damaged reputation worldwide and can be found on the blacklists of various IFIs and our partner countries.The government alleges our reports are anti-state, yet it offers no response regarding engaging in contracts with sanctioned companies—just an attempt to deflect by merely sewing labels.
2. For seven years, we warned the government to sever ties with the highly discredited company “Sinohydro,” presenting numerous pieces of evidence. We highlighted the issues they caused in other countries, which we foresaw happening to us as well. Instead of providing reasoned responses, they labeled us as “enemies.” Nevertheless, the outcome unfolded precisely as we had warned. In January 2024, they had to terminate the contract with “Sinohydro”, though proving massive incompetence once again. As a result, “Sinohydro” sued the state in international arbitration, which already cost the country’s budget an additional million and a half in legal fees.
3. We have a similar situation with another company – “China Railway 23rd Bureau Group Co“, which also took the government to international arbitration in November 2023. Again, if the government had followed our advice, even once in five years, we would have avoided the problems occurring today, as well as an additional waste of budgetary funds.
4. Additionally, over the course of five years, we have consistently raised concerns regarding the contractors selected for the construction of the Rikoti Bypass. We have published several reports where we have described and substantiated the “business fraud” by these companies in different countries. We sought clarification on the rationale behind the authorities’ confidence that these contractors would conduct their work in Georgia with integrity and professionalism despite facing lawsuits and disputes on nearly every continent. Unfortunately, our warnings went unheard; instead, we were labeled as “enemies” and deemed “anti-state elements who do not have a motherland.”
In the year 2023, a series of incidents unfolded with massive landslides and parts of mountains collapsing at various construction sites. This resulted in additional costs of tens of millions to the budget, prompting the initiation of new tenders. if the government had only followed our advice and made companies to environmental assessment plans, even once in five years, we would have avoided the problems occurring today as well as an additional waste of budgetary funds.
There are dozens of such examples, and we do not even talk about the notorious high corruption case of CEFC involving current and former PMs of Georgia. Unfortunately, every time, we were found to be right and all the facts and evidence were confirmed, with which we appealed to the authorities and called for a shift in policy.
Prior to the recent bout of hysteria, we methodically laid out indisputable facts to the court of public opinion, thereby unveiling the falsehoods and manipulation at play. We emphasized that, despite the government’s continuous demagoguery, Chinese investments in Georgia remain minimal. Over the last decade, the PRC has frequently failed to secure a spot in the top ten investors, contributing only 2 to 5 percent to the overall investment portfolio (based on our analysis derived solely from the National Statistics Office of Georgia). The strategic partnership, declared in July, is essentially political, and regardless of the insult and threats from the various officials of the Georgian Dream party at various levels, it cannot magically transform into a remarkable and prosperous economic upswing.
Finally, we would like to advise Ivanishvili’s puppets, before they shoot arrows at territorial integrity, to first look at the strategic partnership statement with the PRC, where, for some reason, the Russian occupation was completely “overlooked”. Furthermore, they should delve into the PRC voting at the UN Georgia IDP resolution. We are confident that many of them may not be familiar with this topic and will find it quite surprising – a matter we have previously discussed in our writings.
Why did the speaker of the parliament and the parliamentary majority get angry? Why now, in January 2024, when Civic IDEA has been exposing the alleged corrupt ties between the government and Chinese companies, along with the Prime Minister’s political corruption, for seven years?
There is a simple answer to this question – Anaklia Deep Sea Port.
It appears that the government is currently working on the decision to grant the Anaklia port tender to the Chinese company. Consequently, they are well aware of the anticipated public discontent stemming from such a choice and, in their view, are taking preemptive measures. The Georgian Dream acknowledges that Civic IDEA stands as the sole organization in the country dedicated to combating strategic corruption and safeguarding the nation’s strategic interests for the past seven years. Consequently, they anticipate the most informed and justified criticism from us. Our perspectives are not only heard and read domestically but also resonate with our Western partners. Hence, the GD members are laying the groundwork to dismiss our criticism by labeling us “Taiwan lobbyists or agents” rather than providing substantive arguments in response.
Additionally, we urge Mikheil Sarjveladze1 to provide a precise explanation of his threat regarding “the Georgian authorities not accepting the financing of a Georgian organization from Taiwan… it is against the vital interests of the state and we will not tolerate such a behaviors under no circumstances.” We are waiting for his answer and explanations of what it means and how to understand ” not tolerate such a behaviors under no circumstances.” It constitutes a clear threat to an independent civil society organization, and it is particularly sad when such a statement comes from the chairman of the Human Rights Committee. Unsurprisingly, one of the primary propaganda outlets for the Kremlin, “Sputnik,” has eagerly disseminated this information. Let us remind you that the head of “Civic IDEA” was the only high-ranking official in the country whose dismissal was openly demanded by the Kremlin, on a deputy MFA press conference (refer to Karasin’s press conference in the spring of 2016). This is how Mr. Karasin spoke about than Georgia’s Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli addressing PM’s Special envoy – “Georgia’s Defense Minister urged the entire world that the civilized nations should unite against the Russian threat. We do not endorse such statements. We hold back, but our patience also has its limits.”
Here we must state unequivocally:
– Surprisingly enough, we are not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, therefore we do not express a position on the recognition or non-recognition of any state;
– Thus neither Civic IDEA nor Tinatin Khidasheli has ever made a statement about the recognition of Taiwan’s independence;
– Surprisingly enough, we no longer at the Ministry of Defense either, so any insinuation that Tinatin Khidasheli had access to secret documents eight years ago (incidentally unrelated to Taiwan or the PRC, as they were not among the ministry’s partners at that time) is completely irrelevant to our current activities. Bringing up this topic out of context is a standard propaganda tactic.
– We are also engaged in educational activities and can educate interested MPs on the difference between “one China policy” and “one China principle”, positions and recognitions aired by Georgia’s western partners;
– Yes, Civic IDEA has partnership relations with organizations in Taiwan. Neither Imedi TV nor Rustavi 2 discovered this information. It is completely open and available on our website. Also, on our webpage, you will read that the partners of the international conference, which we hosted in Tbilisi in October 2023 and was attended by leading experts from more than 30 countries, were the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, together with the NATO Contact-Point Embassies in Georgia, the Embassy of Great Britain, the Embassy of Poland, the Visegrad Fund, FNF and NED.
– Furthermore, our webpage contains details about our visits to Taiwan and the panel discussions we conducted there. A more attentive read of our page would reveal that December 2023 was not our only or first visit to Taiwan.
– Finally, also on our page, you would have seen that we are participating in a very large international project run by our Taiwanese partner DTL, where Civic IDEA, leveraging the reputation and professionalism of its experts, was tasked to conduct research and analysis of the PRC activities in 13 countries across the globe.
– Finally, the statement “Taiwan is financing you” is incorrect. Unlike countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and the USA, where Civic IDEA has received direct funding from their respective governments, we have never received financial support from the Taiwanese state. Our collaborations have been with private, independent organizations in Taiwan, and we genuinely anticipate that this partnership will endure in the future. If our proposed initiatives receive support and approval again, these organizations will allocate funding accordingly.