The United National Movement (UNM), the largest opposition party in Georgia, has decided to join the April 2021 EU-mediated agreement after more than four months of refusing to do so.
The UNM’s decision comes on the heels of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party’s withdrawal from the agreement at the end of July ‘because the main opposition, the UNM, refused to join the agreement,while other opposition parties were constantly violating it.’
The agreement was proposed by European Council President Charles Michel and aimed to help Georgian political parties resolve a more than six-month political standoff in the country which began after the 2020 parliamentary elections.
@UNMGeorgia signs the #EU-mediated agr't. @NikaMelia5: Despite some controversial clauses in the agr't that prevented us from signing the document, today, considering the risks looming over our statehood, it is our obligation to stand above our opinions & controversies, & sign it— UNM Georgia (ენმ) (@UNMGeorgia) September 1, 2021
The document proposed large-scale electoral and judiciary reforms and obliged the ruling party to accept the holding of repeat parliamentary elections if it received less than 43 per cent of votes in the October 2 municipal elections.
The UNM refused to join the agreement because it disapproved of a stipulation in it which offered amnesty to individuals convicted for violence during the June 2019 protests in Tbilisi, which were sparked by the presence of Russian legislators in the Georgian parliament.
Current head of the UNM Nika Melia is also charged with violence during the protests.
The UNM was against the release of law enforcers who were convicted for abuse of authority during the June 19 rally dispersal in central Tbilisi.
100 days after signing the April 19 Agreement, majority of Georgian opposition MPs and parties refused to sign it, declined to work to fulfill it, and voted against it.— Georgian Dream (@GeorgianDream41) July 28, 2021
Therefore, Georgian Dream declares the Agreement void, but continues to adhere to its provisions in principle. pic.twitter.com/pEHuLN3T6r
Now the UNM says that they ‘stand above the stipulation’ because the country’s European course is at a serious risk under GD leadership.’
The UNM believes that despite the GD’s backing out of the EU-mediated agreement the ruling party will have to accept repeat parliamentary elections 'because they will receive less than 43 per cent of votes in the upcoming elections.’
The GD has called the UNM’s decision ‘funny and not serious.’
The UNM was late to enter the parliament and was also late to sign the EU-mediated agreement,” said the GD MPs.
They stated that the party created ‘artificial tension’ in the country following the October 2020 elections and that it is the GD which ‘has made the country’s Euro-Atlantic course irreversible.’