European Council President Charles Michel announced during the joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili that he will mediate a meeting with the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties tonight.
Noting that “the political polarization must stop,” President Michel said “the time has come to move from facilitation to mediation, and I repeat, to relaunch the political dialogue.”
“The government, as any government must demonstrate responsible leadership,” the European Council President went on, adding that “the opposition should also step up to the challenges and engage constructively in the interests of Georgia.”
The talks must address “different elements,” the European Council president said, including judicial and electoral reforms. “Georgian citizens must be able to trust their justice system. Any politicization of justice is unacceptable and we all know that some concrete cases should be addressed,” he underscored.
As President Michel remarked to journalists later, he intends to put on the table a framework to tackle key issues, but that does not mean that “we will solve everything tonight.” Upcoming Association Agreement Commission meeting in Brussels could also be “an interesting moment,” he added.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili welcomes the initiative
Ahead of the European Council President’s remarks, PM Garibashvili said that at their meeting they discussed “a wide spectrum of topics” on the bilateral cooperation agenda, including the political situation in the country. Georgia is loyal and dedicated to its European aspirations and values, the Prime Minister highlighted.
“I want to confirm to you that we are solidly committed to the dialogue, to make sure that we normalize the political situation in the country in the shortest period of time,” PM Garibashvili asserted.
The Georgian PM, following President Michel’s announcement, said that he “stands ready to attend the meeting,” and reiterated readiness on behalf of the Georgian Dream to take specific steps toward de-escalation and constructive dialogue.
Shortly before the press conference, the European Council President met with the Georgian opposition parties. The opposition leaders spoke after the meeting that they will concede on their key demand for snap elections and agree on a plebiscite on whether to hold snap elections. The opposition first floated this idea in December, ahead of the third round of U.S. and EU facilitated post-election talks, but the GD then rejected the plebiscite proposal.
Georgia’s opposition parties are rejecting the official results of the “rigged” October 2020 parliamentary elections. The post-talks have been stalled following December last year when now-GD Chair Irakli Kobakhidze unveiled legislation to strip boycotting parties of state funding. Meanwhile, the crisis further exacerbated in late February after the detention of top opposition leader Nika Melia, only a few hours after PM Garibashvili’s election.