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U.S Acting Assistant Secretary Meets Georgian Opposition

In the afternoon of November 18, following Secretary Pompeo’s departure from Tbilisi, Philip Reeker, U.S Acting Assistant Secretary, met with opposition leaders from the United National Movement (UNM), European Georgia, Lelo, Girchi, Labor Party, Citizens, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, and Alliance of Patriots – all of the eight opposition parties having crossed 1% threshold in October 31 parliamentary elections, refusing to enter the next parliament.

UNM’s Grigol Vashadze said following the meeting that U.S. diplomat stressed the need to reach compromise between the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition parties.

“The fact that Ambassador Reeker stayed in Georgia and did not accompany the State Secretary to Israel, indicates that our strategic partner [U.S], as well as the European Union, understand perfectly how deep the political crisis in Georgia is,” the UNM Chairman remarked.

Badri Japaridze of the Lelo for Georgia party said the opposition “is willing to work constructively and continue dialogue with the ruling GD party to achieve holding new elections which must be conducted under a different Election Administration.”

Davit Bakradze of the European Georgia party, noted that international partners are concerned by the existing political impasse in Georgia, and said that at the meeting they had discussed potential solutions to ending the political deadlock.

“The country requires stability and a solution [to the crisis]; however, stability and a solution hinge not on the acceptance of [election] fraud, but on holding fair elections,” stressed the European Georgia chairman.

State Secretary Pompeo, that held meetings with Georgian leaders, Orthodox Patriarch and civil society representatives in the morning of November 18, left without meeting the opposition leaders, that instead held “silent protest” to remind the top U.S. diplomat of “rigged parliamentary election” in Georgia.

Georgian opposition parties are rejecting the outcome of October 31 general election results and are refusing to enter the new parliament, unless Georgian Dream government yields their demands to allow snap elections, resignation of Central Election Commission Chairperson Tamar Zhvania and the release of alleged political prisoners.

Georgian Dream and all the said eight opposition parties held two rounds of negotiations on November 12, and November 14, facilitated by the U.S. and EU Ambassadors, albeit achieved no solutions to end the political deadlock.

Noteworthy, as Secretary Pompeo left Tbilisi to Israel, U.S. Department of State released the November 18 briefing to press, during which, a senior State Department official, presumably Ambassador Kelly Degnan, said U.S. is encouraging the opposition to “fight for change” within the Parliament.

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