Georgian Dream and Most Opposition Parties Signed the Agreement created under the auspices of Charles Michel

The President of European Council – Charles Michel offered a new proposal, named “Way Ahead for Georgia” to political parties in order to overcome the political crisis on April 18. This new document included two issues most important to the opposition – amnesty of “political prisoners” and the notice about new elections. These issues weren’t represented in a previous agreement created by Charles Michel’s Special Envoy – Christian Danielsson. 

According to Charles Michel’s document, if Georgian Dream doesn’t get 43% of valid proportional votes in Municipal Elections in 2021, a snap election will be called in 2022. In addition to this, the agreement proposed specific mechanisms for the release of chairman of United National Movement – Nika Melia and shareholder of “Mtavari TV” – Giorgi Rurua from prison. Nika Melia’s bail will be paid by the EU and the latter will be pardoned by the President of Georgia – Salome Zurabishvili. On 19th April, Salome Zurabishvili said that she is ready to pardon Giorgi Rurua. 

CSOs called on political parties to sign the agreement.  International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International Georgia and Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association stated that harsh economical and social challenges require a compromise by every political party.  The statement said: “While the document might not be depicting all the demands and interests of the involved parties, the compromise itself implies concessions and consensus precisely on the disputed issues”

Three opposition parties: Lelo for Georgia, Strategy Aghmashenebeli and New Political Centre – Girchi announced their willingness to sign the agreement on the same day. The leader of Lelo for Georgia – Ana Natsvlishvili stated that the party agrees with the content of the document in principle, but there are some issues which need specification. According to her, it’s important that mediators take close look to the implementation of the agreement. Giorgi Vashadze, leader of Strategy Aghmashenebeli said that “the document isn’t ideal at all”, but the opposition needs to use “window of opportunity”, sign the agreement and make it the point of big changes. 

Georgian Dream shared their statement later on April 19. It said that the party is ready to sign the compromise offered by President Charles Michel to overcome the political crisis in Georgia. Georgian Dream representatives clarified that they are ready to commit to snap elections in case of not gaining 43% support at Municipal Elections. 

In the end the historical document was signed in the Presidential Palace of Georgia. Signing ceremony was attended by the ambassadors of the EU and the USA in Georgia – Carl Hartzell and Kelly Degnan. The president of the European Council – Charles Michel attended the ceremony in a digital way. The document was signed by the following political parties: Georgian Dream, Lelo – For Georgia, Girchi, Girchi – More Freedom, Strategy Aghmashenebeli and Citizens. Except for them, the document was signed individually by former-leader of the European Georgia – Davit Bakradze, his former team-mates – Armaz Akhvlediani and Shalva Shavgulidze, former chairman of the United National Movement – Grigol Vashadze and member of the party – Salome Samadashvili. The biggest opposition party – United National Movement hasn’t signed the document itself yet. Although the 3rd President of Georgia – Mikheil Saakashvili appealed to the United National Movement to sign the document as soon as Nika Melia leaves the prison. Saakashvili stated that despite a lot of “flaws” in the document, the document gives an opportunity to release Nika Melia and Giorgi Rurua – one of the founders of “Mtavari Arkhi” (TV Channel) from prison. According to Saakashvili, the document also creates an opportunity to hold “practically a referendum”, which “will be an option for making sure that Ivanishvili leaves the government”.

Giga Bokeria – chairman of the European Georgia and Tako Charkviani – leader of the Law and Justice Party are not going to sign the document.

On 20th of April the President of European Council – Charles Michel visited Georgia. He met with the Prime-Minister of Georgia, the President of Georgia, the representatives of Georgian Dream and opposition parties and discussed with them the means of ending the political crisis.

Case of Nika Melia: The Chairman of the biggest opposition party – United National Movement refuses to post bail. The alternative way for Melia to leave the prison is amnesty.

The chairman of the United National Movement – Nika Melia refused to post bail. According to the document of Charles Michel, the NGO associated with the EU would post bail on behalf of Nika Melia, but regardless who pays, Nika Melia perceives any kind of bail as “ransom”, which mustn’t be paid as far as he doesn’t perceive himself guilty. There is a discussion about an alternative way for releasing Melia – which is amnesty. This alternative way is neither supported by Melia, because this amnesty will affect not only the case of Nika Melia, but all the cases from the night of 20th of June, 2019, probably including the ones related to the policemen, which were accused of violations against protestants. 

On the 21st of April the leaders of Lelo – Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japharidze and Grigol Gegelia visited Brussels. They met with the members of the European Parliament and alongside with other topics, they discussed the possibility of participating members of the European Parliament in the process of releasing Melia from prison. Members of the European Parliament – Andrius Kubilius and Riho Terras declared their willingness to be the guarantors for Melia, that he won’t conceal himself.

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EGI Political Digest was created with support from Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC). The views and opinions expressed in this Digest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of EGI or SILC.

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