European Council President’s Special Envoy to mediate Georgia’s political crisis Christian Danielsson met with Georgia’s civil society organizations (CSOs) in the framework of the working trip to Tbilisi on March 12-14.
Vakhushti Menabde of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) said after the meeting that the parties discussed increasing the opposition’s representation in “important government appointments,” as well as making the electoral system more proportional by lowering the electoral threshold closer to the natural barrier.
The sides also talked about deeper reform of self-governance and the judiciary among possible solutions to the political polarization in Georgia. Menabde said that the parties did not touch upon the issue of the snap elections, which is the opposition’s key demand, repeatedly denied by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party.
Vakhushti Menabde noted, however, that the snap elections can only be
a short-term solution, while Georgia also needs a more far-reaching approach to prevent future polarization.
Head of Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) Eka Gigauri said she stressed the importance of releasing “political prisoners” during the meeting, including United National Movement Chair Nika Melia.
Gigauri also noted that reforming the judiciary and the Prosecutor’s Office, while increasing the opposition’s role in Parliament and the election of the Supreme Court judges, will be necessary to avert future crises.
The European Commission’s Special Envoy arrived at the Tbilisi International Airport earlier today and already held meetings with President Salome Zurabishvili and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. He is also expected to hold separate meetings with the ruling party and opposition parties later today.
Mr. Danielsson was mandated to mediate the talks between the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition parties by European Council President Charles Michel, who led the effort to re-launch the stalled post-election talks on March 1, during a visit to Tbilisi.
The EU-mediation initiative came as tensions ran deeper in February following the detention of opposition leader Nika Melia, only a few hours after PM Garibashvili’s election as Prime Minister. PM Garibashvili replaced Giorgi Gakharia, who resigned after refusing to greenlight Melia’s detention.
Melia, the chairperson of the former ruling United National Movement party, charged for inciting violence during June 2019 anti-occupation unrest outside the Parliament, refused to pay increased bail. The bail was imposed on him after he threw monitoring tag – as a sign of protest – during one of the post-election rallies in November.
Georgia’s major opposition parties reject the results of the last general election, citing “massive fraud.” 54 of 60 opposition MPs are still boycotting the new 150-member Parliament.