US calls on parties in Georgia to show restraint, avoid escalation

  • The US has urged Georgia to act in line with its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 19 Feb 2021 - 11:05, Tbilisi,Georgia

The US Department of State has responded to current political turmoil in Georgia in regards to the possible arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia and the recent resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and called on political parties in the country ‘to show restraint and avoid escalatory actions or rhetoric.’ 

The US Embassy in Georgia has stated that they appreciate the restraint shown by the authorities and the opposition in responding to the events surrounding the Melia case.  

It is imperative that all those involved commit to de-escalating the current tensions so that a way forward can be agreed upon,” said the embassy. 

The embassy stated that ‘Georgia is facing extremely serious challenges’ and that ‘it is in the best interests of the people of Georgia’ that this political crisis be resolved quickly and peacefully.

Gakharia said yesterday that he resigned because he had failed to make an agreement with the ruling Georgian Georgian Dream party over the arrest of opposition MP, the head of the United National Movement party Melia. 

Melia is charged with incitement to violence during the June protests in Tbilisi back in 2019 which were sparked by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament. 

Gakharia said that Melia’s arrest was legal. However, he stated that the detention amid the current political crisis would threaten further destabilisation. 

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has tweeted: 

The head of the Georgian Dream ruling party Irakli Kobakhidze responded that the reasons named by Gakharia why Melia should not be arrested were ‘weak.’ 

The party nominated Defence Minister, former PM Irakli Garibashvili for premiership again. 

Melia and the opposition have welcomed Gakharia’s resignation. However, they have demanded an ‘urgent meeting’ with the ruling party, with the mediation of foreign ambassadors’ to come to an agreement on repeat elections. 

51 of 60 opposition MPs who won seats in the October 31 parliamentary elections, including Melia have refused to take up their mandates. 

They say that the elections were fabricated and have been demanding repeat elections since November 2020. 

The ruling party repeated yesterday that the ‘repeat elections are not on the agenda.’