Georgian ruling party and opposition fail again to reach an agreement on EU-mediated talks
EU-mediated talks between the Georgian Government and the opposition have once again ended in failure on March 31. Members of the European Parliament threaten to cut EU financial aid to Georgia.
The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the opposition have failed to come to an agreement in the EU-mediated talks for the second time. The document offered by the EU mediator Christian Danielsson 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.
“I’m sad to report that none of the political parties could agree to this solution in whole,” said Danielsson before wrapping up his mission to Georgia.
As Eurasianet explains, the sides appeared willing to go along with Danielsson’s proposals on reforms to Georgia’s electoral, legislative and judicial systems. However, they got hung up on the two most contentious issues pushed by the opposition: snap parliamentary elections and the release of what they call political prisoners, most notably Nika Melia, the chairman of the largest opposition group, the United National Movement.
Following the negotiations, the chair of GD Irakli Kobakhidze confirmed they were open for the amnesty but did not commit to releasing Giorgi Rurua. Rurua was arrested in November 2019 for illegal arms possession, several months after playing a role in large anti-government protests in Tbilisi, reminds OC Media.
Furthermore, after meeting Danielson, Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili announced that the country’s authorities did not intend to hold early elections. „There will be no early elections in the country. We have finished talking about this. […] The issue of early elections is closed; there are no political prisoners in Georgia,“ the „Georgia Online“ quoted the Premier as stating on March 29.
The opposition, meanwhile, put the blame at the feet of Georgian Dream’s founder and de facto leader, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. “Ivanishvili and his entourage have not moved away from the nationally destructive position… to retain power and the status quo at any cost,” said Giga Bokeria of the European Georgia party.
Shortly after the failed negotiation, a group of leading members of the European Parliament have threatened to cut the EU’s financial aid to Georgia. „Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union’, the MEPs said in a joint statement on Thursday evening. The European Parliament, in particular, will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro-Financial Assistance and budget support programmes,“ cites OC Media the statement.