EU-mediated talks between Georgian political parties fail again

  • EU mediator Christian Danielsson has left Georgia after the failure of his mediation efforts for the second time. Photo: EU in Georgia press office., 31 Mar 2021 - 11:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

The ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition have failed to come to an agreement in EU-mediated talks for the second time. 

The document offered by EU mediator Christian Danielsson yesterday which concerned ‘ambitious electoral and judicial reform’ and offered amnesty for suspects and convicts of the June 2019 protests in Tbilisi was not signed by any of the parties.  

The document did not include the conduct of repeat parliamentary elections which has been demanded by the opposition since November 2020. 

The opposition parties accused the ruling party of being destructive and said that no agreement will be acceptable for them which will not include the issue of repeat parliamentary elections and the release of ‘political prisoners.’ 

They said that they will continue exerting pressure on the government, both inside and outside the country, ‘to make them concede.’  

The ruling Georgian Dream party said that the United National Movement, Lelo and Girchi - More Freedom opposition parties were ‘particularly destructive’ in the talks. 

The party said that the opposition refused to pay bail for the head of the United National Movement opposition party Nika Melia in exchange for amnesty for violations during 2019 protests. 

The document which was offered by Danielsson said that ‘all future parliamentary elections in Georgia shall be fully proportional. The next two parliamentary elections shall have a threshold between natural and 2%.’  

It also stated that the parliament ‘shall adopt ambitious judicial reform in this parliamentary term.’ 

The document said that the opposition MPs shall be assigned five committee chairmanships in parliament. 

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has tweeted: 

The document cited OSCE/ODIHR as saying that the October 31 parliamentary elections in Georgia ‘were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected’. 

The parties acknowledge their differing assessment of the 2020 elections and agree to take up their parliamentary mandates and participate in future elections on the basis of the electoral reform agreed here above, in the interest of Georgia’s political stability and in order to implement this agreement,” said the document. 

Danielsson, who was earlier sent to Georgia for mediation by the European Council President Charles Michel on March 12, returned back to Tbilisi on March 27 after the failure of his previous mediation efforts. 

Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze has tweeted: 

The Georgian opposition parties which have won seats in the 10th convocation of the Georgian parliament say that the last year parliamentary elections were fabricated and have been demanding repeat elections since November 2020. 

The arrest of the head of the United National Movement opposition party Nika Melia for his refusal to pay bail on February 23, 2021(in the case of June 2019 protests) further complicated the political tension. 

The top demands of the opposition include the conduct of repeat parliamentary elections, the release of Melia and the co-founder of the opposition-minded TV channel Mtavari Arkhi Giorgi Rurua who was convicted last year for the illegal possession and carrying of firearms. 

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili had stated that repeat elections were not on the agenda, while the release of Melia and Rurua was up to the court and not to the government. 

Garibashvili also said that the country’s opposition has two choices: ‘either listen to the EU and the US partners and take up their mandates in the state legislature, or continue their marginal actions.’