EU Mediation: Georgian Dream and Opposition Still Cannot Reach an Agreement
EU envoy Christian Danielsson arrived in Tbilisi on the night of March 27-28 after his first mediation mission between the two sides failed earlier this month.
Before the resumption of the mediation process, Danielsson held preparatory meetings ahead of the renewed mediation process between the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition on March 28. Danielsson met the representatives of local NGOs, where They discussed solutions for the crisis.The Special Representative also discussed the next steps remotely with the seven leading members of the European Parliament.
On the eve of the meeting, several NGOs addressed political leaders and presented their proposals for reforms and overcoming the crisis. According to the appeal of NGOs , to solve the political crisis, the opposition should enter the parliament, while the government should adopt a fully proportional electoral system with a natural threshold; Implement justice reform; Appoint members of the Central Election Commission, Judges of the Supreme Court, Auditor General and Prosecutor General with bilateral support; The proposal included demand to the Authorities to find ways to release those identified by the opposition as “political prisoners” and so on.
Mediation, which lasted 8 hours, ended late at night on March 31 Christian Danielsson, told the media: “sad to report that none of the political parties could agree to this solution in whole.”
Danielsson also made the document of the proposed agreement public. Although the ruling team and the opposition have blamed each other for the breach of the agreement, it appears that they have managed to reconcile their positions on electoral and judicial reform, as well as the redistribution of power in parliament. However, as expected, the parties failed to reach a consensus on the release of “political” prisoners and the issue of new elections.
The main demand of the opposition was new elections, the ruling party categorically opposed this. It was not included in the final text of the agreement. By announcing an amnesty for “all violations and arrests” during the June 2019 protest rally, the document also contains a record of the release and termination of the persecution of Nika Melia, the leader of the United National Movement. This article did not cover the release of Giorgi Rurua, one of the holders of the Mtavari Tv , who is considered a “political prisoner” by the opposition.
The parties blamed each other for disrupting the talks. Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Georgian Dream, said that the rejection of the agreement by the “radical opposition” confirmed their suspicion that “The real leader of this political force – Mikheil Saakashvili desired to break the agreement from the very beginning” One of the leaders of European Georgia, Giga Bokeria, added that the short-term plan of the opposition will “create serious problems” for Ivanishvili inside the country. According to Bokeria the opposition will work to increase pressure on Ivanishvili from international partners.
“When I return to Brussels, I will reaffirm my firm belief that such a strong civil society as there is in Georgia will one day be able to turn the page and move on to its ambitious future,” said Danielsson.
7 MEPs issued a statement on April 1 saying that after the refusal to compromise, Georgian leaders should not wait for the relationship with the EU to carry on as usual. The statement included the possibility of suspension of financial aid. The opposition sees this statement as an increase in pressure on the government from the West. Georgian Dream MP Nino Tsilosani assessed this statement as unfair and announced proactive steps. EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel notes that this statement should be taken seriously in Georgia.
The visit of Russian Journalist Vladimir Pozner to Georgia Was Followed By a Strong Protest
The government has become a target of sharp criticism over the visit of Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner to Georgia. On the night of April 1, a large number of people gathered at a protest rally. They demanded Pozner to leave the country, because of his controversial remarks about Georgia’s territorial integrity.
According to media reports, Pozner arrived in Tbilisi on a charter flight with about 50 Russian journalists and celebrities on the evening of March 31 to celebrate his birthday on April 1.
The visit coincided with the 30th anniversary of the referendum on the restoration of Georgia’s independence. In addition to this, Russian journalists violated the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic and the curfew, which further aggravated the situation.
Civic and pro-opposition activists, as well as opposition leaders, gathered in front of a hotel restaurant in the center of Tbilisi where a group of Pozner’s friends were having dinner in violation of the curfew. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, 32 citizens of Russia have been fined.
Zaal Udumashvili, a member of the United National Movement, said: “Vladimir Pozner is the direct emissary of the current leader of Russia, Putin. He must leave this country. He has no right to be in this country and make toasts on the Georgian table. “
Representatives of the Georgian Dream responded to the rallies against the Russian journalist. The party’s chairman, Irakli Kobakhidze, said there was a “reasonable suspicion” that Elene Khoshtaria, the leader of the political movement Droa, and Shota Dighmelashvili and Giga Makarashvili, activists from the anti-occupation movement “Shame”, were “Russian agents.” According to the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, Pozner did not violate the law of occupation and his visit was under the law, and this form of protest by activists and the opposition “violates civilian forms and Georgian standards.”
The current events in Tbilisi were assessed by the press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov. He said that going to Georgia is dangerous for Russian citizens. Besides, he noted: “We have seen the statement of the Prime Minister of Georgia today, who also condemned these actions. We welcome this statement.” Zhigimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Sad and symbolic reflection of reality in Tbilisi. The EU negotiator is gone, the Russian propagandist is here.” The former US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly also tweeted: “It is disturbing.”