European Council President Charles Michel’s envoy to mediate the Georgia crisis talks, Christian Danielsson held separate follow-up meetings today with the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition United National Movement-led blocs. U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan was also in attendance.
Currently, Danielsson is meeting other parliamentary boycotting opposition parties – of European Georgia, Lelo, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Girchi, and Girchi More Freedom parties.
After the meeting, Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze, who leads the ruling party in crisis talks, refused to discuss specific details of the follow-up meeting. He said, “the key criterion for us is the agreement to be fair. I cannot comment on anything else.”
Later, ahead of their meeting with Danielsson, UNM’s Salome Samadashvili said the opposition remains committed to its key demands – new elections and the release of alleged political prisoners. She said “the one thing that we can agree on is the path that leads to the snap elections,” referring to the possibility to settle on a plebiscite instead.
Ruling party Chair MP Irakli Kobakhidze, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze and MP Shalva Papuashvili attended the first meeting, while Salome Samadashvili, Akaki Minashvili and Khatuna Samnidze represented the UNM-led Strength in Unity bloc at the second.
Danielsson arrived in Tbilisi on March 12, and has already held various meetings throughout the weekend, including with Georgian leaders, political party and CSO representatives.
He was mandated by European Council President Charles Michel to lead the EU’s mediation efforts in the talks between the GD and the opposition parties.
President Michel initiated the mediation 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.