Twenty-four Georgian opposition parties, including the United National Movement, European Georgia, Lelo, Girchi, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Labor Party, and Citizens party, issued a joint statement amid State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s Tbilisi visit on November 18, expressing concern over the country’s “democratic backsliding,” and stressing the importance of advancing U.S-Georgia cooperation.
Noting that State Secretary arrived “at a time when significant threats and new opportunities have emerged” for Georgia, wider region and the Euro-Atlantic area, the Georgian opposition underlined the necessity of a political breakthrough in U.S-Georgia relations through “the deployment of U.S military infrastructure in Georgia,” and by making progress on Georgia’s path to NATO membership.
Highlighting that Putin-led Russia continues to undermine the sovereignty of free countries by attempting to erode their democratic systems, the opposition parties underscored that “this is why it is a matter of particular concern of what Bidzina Ivanishvili [ruling Georgian Dream party chairman] is doing in Georgia.”
“Election fraud, politicization of the judiciary, having political prisoners, persecution of political opponents, obstruction of Western investments and refusal to build the international Anaklia Port – these are signs of Georgia’s democratic backsliding,” the joint statement added.
The opposition parties underscored that “Ivanishvili’s seizure of power and erosion of democratic institutions” hinders Georgia’s democratic development, and added that “the free world” should help Georgia conduct transparent elections .
On November 18, top U.S. diplomat met with Georgian leaders, Orthodox Patriarch, as well as civil society representatives, while his agenda did not include meetings with the opposition parties, that are contesting the results of October 31 parliamentary polls and are demanding the snap elections.
To deliver their message to that elections in Georgia have been “rigged,” the opposition organized “silent protests” and human chains in downtown Tbilisi as the U.S. State Secretary held meetings with the Georgian officials.