Georgia’s Constitutional Court ruled on Monday (October 16) that pro-Western President Salome Zurabishvili had violated the constitution by making unauthorized trips abroad, paving the way for her removal.
In September, MPs from the ruling Georgian Dream party called for the 71-year-old figurehead president’s removal on the grounds that she had met with foreign leaders without government permission to advocate for Georgia’s membership in the European Union .
By conducting foreign visits without government approval, “Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili violated the constitution,” Georgian Constitutional Court Chairman Merab Turava said on Monday.
Zurabishvili’s lawyer, Maia Kopaleishvili, told reporters that the court had “no legal or factual basis to confirm the president’s violation of the Constitution.”
It was the court’s first case in Georgia’s history involving the impeachment of a president.
Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said the impeachment vote would take place in the coming days.
But Georgia’s ruling party has admitted it has little chance of ousting Zurabishvili as it controls only 84 seats in parliament and needs the support of at least 100 MPs.
Party leader Iraqi Kobakhidze admitted that “there is practically no chance of getting 100 votes” and added: “If Salome Zurabishvili had elementary dignity, she would resign.”
“She will be seen only nominally as the president of Georgia… and completely deprived of her political and moral legitimacy.”
Opposition parties have said they will not support Zurabishvili’s removal.
EU chief Charles Michel met Zurabishvili in Brussels last month to reaffirm the bloc’s commitment to Georgia’s European path and highlight the reforms needed to join the bloc.
Georgia, along with Ukraine and Moldova, applied for EU membership after Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbor in February 2022.
EU leaders have granted formal candidate status to Kiev and Chisinau, but called on Tbilisi to implement judicial and electoral reforms, improve press freedom and limit the power of oligarchs.
Zurabishvili has sharply criticized the “Georgian Dream” government for, in her opinion, failing to meet EU demands for reform.
While relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have remained openly hostile for years, the Georgian government under Prime Minister Iraqi Garibashvili has taken steps toward rapprochement over the past year.
In March, Georgia was rocked by protests after the government introduced a Russian-style law on “foreign agents,” and in May the government resumed direct flights with Russia, drawing condemnation from the EU.
Georgia’s first female president, Zurabishvili, was elected to a six-year term in 2018 with the support of Georgian Dream, but quickly made enemies within the ranks of the parliamentary majority.
She was born in France to a Georgian family that fled the Bolshevik regime to Paris in 1921.
Her 30-year career in French diplomacy culminated in a post as ambassador to Tbilisi, where she was appointed foreign minister in 2004.
In her book “A Woman for Two Countries,” published in France, she wrote: “Now I have to engage in a political struggle that has never attracted me, that I have never practiced, that is being forced upon me.”
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