Everyone’s shared recommendation is that the Georgian political parties must find common ground, and work together in Parliament. – PM Irakli Garibashvili
The President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili on March 12 met with Christian Danielsson, Personal Representative of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
Danielsson had arrived in Georgia that morning to engage in a renewed political dialogue initiated by President Michel on March 1 with the leaders of all parties involved in the current political conflict.
“My mission is to help these political parties, to enable them to start a dialogue, and to make progress,” Danielsson said, noting that what is happening in Georgia is very concerning to the European Union.
“We believe that now is the time for the political parties, for the interested parties, to make every effort to find a way out of the current impasse, in the form of a compromise. I would like to emphasize that my role, as well as that of ambassadors Hartzell and Degnan, is to support this process. It is the job of the parties and their representatives to find a solution for themselves, with our help, and to get out of this situation, and, especially in the face of important issues like the pandemic and the economic consequences, to find a solution. This is a vision of moving towards unity,” Danielsson said.
During their Friday meeting, President Zurabishvili pointed out that the process in negotiations between the parties is moving in the right direction, although there are “attempts to bring tension.”
“Rhetoric needs to be eased and the process shifted to the negotiating table to find a solution,” she said.
Danielsson in reply noted that Georgia has always been an example of democracy and stability in the region, and this situation should not change that, as it is “in the national interests of the country.”
The meeting with the President was attended by the EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell and the Adviser to the President of the European Council, Magdalena Grono.
Christian Danielsson then began his work with the representatives of the opposition, resulting on the first day in a four-hour meeting with the United National Movement (UNM), European Georgia, Lelo for Georgia, Strategy Builder, as well as Girchi, and Girchi – More Freedom.
Salome Samadashvili, a member of the UNM, spoke to press before the meeting, stating that the fate of the talks “depends on the position of Georgian Dream today.”
Several leaders of the opposition parties held a short briefing for journalists afterwards, saying the meeting had been “intense and difficult.” They refrained from sharing further details while the sessions of the negotiation process are ongoing.
The opposition leaders emphasized that all the topics initiated before, especially the early elections and issue of political prisoners, were priorities in the discussion. Zurab Japaridze, the leader of Girchi – More Freedom, also mentioned that during these discussions, the tone of the ruling party, especially of Irakli Kobakhidze, was very different from their usual rhetoric.
Yet leader of the Labor Party, Shalva Natelashvili, left the March 17 meeting early.
On his way out, Natelashvili told journalists that the reason for his protest was the different perspectives on the meeting agenda and prioritization of the issues to be discussed.
“The Labor Party is leaving the negotiation process, in which setting the date for early elections, the issue of political prisoners, and the absence of the illegally detained Nika Melia, are not being discussed as priorities,” Natelashvili said.
He added that his party would join the sessions again only if the issues above have a clear resolution.
“I have said many times that building a house starts from the foundation and not from the roof. When we start discussing electoral, judicial reforms, other problems, or initially request the opposition MPs to enter Parliament, it means that the process is falling apart and that the Russian oligarch remains the master of the country and, therefore, it means that the opposition has failed to fulfill its mission for the Georgian people, for the present and future of the country,” Natelashvili said.
The same day, Georgian Dream MP Sozar Subari said that the opposition leaders were “much more constructive than before,” and that Georgian Dream is doing everything possible to maintain the strength of the state, and the fact that the party did not terminate the opposition mandates was also an example of the constructiveness of the leading party, with which behavior “they gave an opportunity for dialogue and negotiation.”
Danielsson extended his stay since no agreement between the government and the opposition has been reached in the ongoing EU-mediated negotiations.
“We will continue to work to go even further. All parties were very involved in the process. It depends on them to reach an agreement,” Danielsson reiterated.