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EU Mediator Extends Tbilisi Visit

European Council President Charles Michel’s personal envoy to mediate Georgia’s political crisis talks, Christian Danielsson said at the press briefing late on March 14 that he extends his Tbilisi visit for one more day, as “it’s clear that we need some more time.”

Noting that “we have seen progress,” Danielsson said, “this is for the parties to find the way forward, what I am doing is try to help them doing that.” “All the political players will have to take on and make compromises,” he added.

The EU mediator’s press briefing came after holding the second follow-up meeting for today with the ruling Georgian Dream party negotiators.

Georgian Dream chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze, the ruling party negotiator, said earlier following the second meeting that “we advanced on many issues, but the talks will continue” including after Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s visit to Brussels on March 16.

“Mr. Danielson’s visit has shown that his involvement is very productive, he leads the dialogue very well. We [GD] would like the dialogue and talks to continue in this regime. We will wait for the next mission,” noted MP Kobakhidze.

Archil Talakvadze, Parliament Speaker, another GD negotiator, said “the opposition shall make more steps to make the agreement possible.”

Danielsson also held two separate meetings with the opposition parties in between the two rounds of talks with the Georgian Dream today. The EU negotiator first met with the United National Movement bloc, the largest opposition force, and the second one with smaller opposition outfits – European Georgia, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Lelo, Girchi, and Girchi – More Freedom.

Salome Samadashvili, one of the United National Movement negotiators said earlier today that “there are issues where [the Georgian Dream and opposition] positions easily get closer, but there are topics with the views of parties remaining far apart.”

Samadashvili noted that “there is a space for the agreement if the Georgian Dream has the political will for it.”

While both the Georgian Dream and the opposition parties largely refrained from talking about the details of today’s meetings with Danielsson, the issue of snap elections, demanded by the boycotting the opposition and rejected by the GD, is reportedly one of the most contested parts of the negotiation.

Danielsson arrived in Tbilisi on March 12 and has already held various meetings since, including with Georgian leaders, political parties and CSO representatives. He was mandated to lead the EU’s mediation efforts by President Charles Michel, who managed during his Tbilisi visit on March 1 Georgian parties to agree on restarting crisis talks, which stalled since December.

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.

But the political impasse began in November well before Melia’s detention. Georgia’s major opposition parties are refusing to enter the new Parliament, citing “fraud” during October 31 parliamentary elections. The ruling party repeatedly denied the allegations, including over so-called political persecution and rejected the possibility of holding revote.

The European Council President during the restart of talks elaborated a six-point mediation plan for the parties, reportedly involving the issues of ambitious electoral reform; rule of law and court reform; alleged political persecution, including the issue of “political prisoners;” improving the power-sharing system in parliament; potential snap elections and preparation for local elections of October 2021;

President Michel then said Georgian parties had to make progress in talks before mid-March, the date of the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting in Brussels.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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