Georgian Dream, Opposition Hold Third Round of Talks

Leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and eight opposition parties that passed the 1% threshold in October 31 parliamentary elections, gathered on December 7 at U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s residence for the third round of post-election talks, with EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell also in attendance.

At the third round of talks, coming less than a week before new Parliament should hold its inaugural session, the parties managed to bring closer their positions on a few issues, but disagreements persist on major demands, including snap elections.

The GD and opposition parties are holding talks to overcome post-election political impasse, as all of the key opposition parties are rejecting the outcome of recent parliamentary elections and refusing to enter the new Parliament, unless the ruling party yields to their demands of snap elections, resignation of CEC chair Tamar Zhvania and the release of alleged political prisoners.

Incumbent Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze said following five-hours-long talks in the afternoon that the meeting was “a step forward,” asserting that parties brought positions closer on issues that will “serve as a means for long-term cooperation between political parties.”

“The Georgian Dream will certainly not consider repeat elections or any version related to it, including a plebiscite,” however, Speaker Archil Talakvadze added.

GD Executive Secretary Irakli Kobakhidze, former Speaker, stated that “changes in electoral legislation are being considered,” but refused to disclose further details, citing the foreign facilitators’ requests.

On the opposition’s part, United National Movement chairman Grigol Vashadze told reporters that a compromise regarding the opposition’s three key demands “has yet to appear on the horizon.”

Davit Bakradze of the European Georgia party noted that the parties approximated their positions on some of the issues, while there are few key issues left where the positions could not be converged. Bakradze also revealed that another meeting is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

Few days before the third round, on December 4, the opposition shared with the GD via foreign facilitators their four point working document as a solution to the crisis. According to media reports, the document includes proposals to conduct national plebiscite on whether to schedule revote in fall of 2021, alongside planned local elections, to replace CEC chair Tamar Zhvania with a candidate nominated by three key CSOs – ISFED, TI Georgia and GYLA, and to hold all of the future parliamentary polls with zero or 1% threshold, among others.

The Georgian Dream and the said opposition parties – including the UNM, European Georgia, Lelo, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Labor Party, the Citizens, Girchi party and Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots – held two rounds of foreign-facilitated negotiations on November 12, and November 14.

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