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Georgian Opposition Releases Joint Statement

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On March 9, a day after sealing foreign-mediated electoral reform agreement with the ruling Georgian Dream party, Georgian opposition parties gathered at the Labor Party’s office. They released a joint statement.

Since late November, dozens of Georgian opposition parties have been gathering for electoral reform consultations at the Labour Party office. An inexhaustive list of the opposition parties that are courting the Labor Party office includes the United National Movement, European Georgia, New Political Center – Girchi, the Republican Party, Democratic Movement – United Georgia, New Georgia party and Victorious Georgia. Former President Giorgi Margvelashvili also appeared at today’s meeting.

The statement said that “an agreement was reached between the Georgian government and the opposition with the participation of our country’s international partners. We are grateful to the Ambassadors of the U.S., the EU and Germany and the representative of Council of Europe, as well as all friends of Georgia who took part in reaching this agreement.”

“Given the crisis, this agreement is key to defusing tensions and for Georgia to avoid the risks posed by a highly tense environment and the existence of political prisoners. The final test of the negotiation process will naturally be the fulfillment of this agreement,” the statement highlighted.

“The order of Georgian society was to achieve fully proportional elections,” the parties said, adding that although “the interest of opposition parties and civic activists was to achieve fully proportional elections and it remains so, … we understand that finding a reasonable compromise on this issue is in our country’s interest. Such a compromise has been found.”

“Importantly, the agreement reached not only mentions the proportion between party lists and majoritarians (at 120/30) and the electoral threshold, but also solid criteria and deadlines for the formation of new constituencies,” the statement noted.

Speaking of the disagreement between the ruling party and the opposition about the release of persons detained during June 20 events and in the aftermath, the statement said that “the opposition considers them political prisoners, while the authorities do not admit it, but the parties have agreed in a joint document that resolving these issues so that no political group has the feeling that justice is being used for political ends is key to defusing the situation.”

“It is important for Georgia to comply with this agreement, no matter the differences between the government and the opposition,” the statement stressed, and “call[ed] on the President [Zurabishvili] and all state institutions to help resolve this issue quickly by using legitimate tools at their disposal so that Giorgi Rurua, Gigi Ugulava, Besik Tamliani and Irakli Okruashvili are released from prison on time.”

“For the sake of credibility of the political process and the agreement reached, it is important not to revise political decisions made regarding these people or return them to prison through other political matters. It is also important that no other repressive steps are taken against other political leaders and activists,” the statement added.

“Elections must be a contest of ideas and beliefs about how our country will develop. Citizens of Georgia should decide which path they will support. Our task is to change this government through peaceful elections and bring Georgia out of this dead end. We should never allow single-handed rule and should establish a tradition of multi-party parliamentarism,” it concluded.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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