On March 12-13, European Council President’s Envoy to mediate the Georgia crisis talks Christian Danielsson held preparatory meetings separately with representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream, the opposition coalition led by the United National Movement, and the rest of the opposition parties that crossed the 1% election threshold in October 2020 general elections.
The ruling party leaders did not comment on the specifics of the talks that are expected to continue through the weekend.
GD chair Irakli Kobakhidze, who leads the ruling party team in the dialogue, refrained from commenting, clarifying only that the main opposition demands – snap elections and the release of alleged political prisoners – were not considered as a compromise by the ruling party.
Salome Samadashvili, who leads the team of the largest opposition party, UNM, said yesterday that they have the “political will” to conclude the EU mediation process successfully.
“We believe that the issue of [alleged] political prisoners must be settled. […] For example, Nika Melia shall represent the party at the negotiating table,” said Samadashvili.
Following Danielsson’s meeting with smaller opposition parties, Giorgi Vashadze, leader of Strategy Aghmashenebeli said that they will know by tomorrow evening whether the Georgian Dream wants to negotiate or not.
Today Danielsson held one meeting with Davit Bakradze and Giga Bokeria of European Georgia, Giorgi Vashadze of Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze of Lelo, Zurab Japaridze of Girchi – More Freedom and Vakhtang Megrelishvili of New Political Center – Girchi; and another meeting with Shalva Natelashvili of the Labor Party, Levan Ioseliani of Citizens and Gocha Tevdoradze of the Alliance of Patriots.
Danielsson is mandated by the European Council President to lead EU’s mediation efforts in the talks between the GD and the opposition parties. The mediation was initiated by the President of the EU Council Charles Michel to resolve the deadlock after the detention of opposition leader Nika Melia, only a few hours after PM Garibashvili’s approval as Prime Minister. PM Garibashvili replaced Giorgi Gakharia, who voluntarily resigned after refusing to greenlight Melia’s detention.
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.