On his sixth day into Georgia crisis mediation efforts, European Council President Charles Michel’s personal envoy, Christian Danielsson arranged today a four-hour-long meeting between the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition parties. Talks are expected to continue tomorrow, as the parties have not yet reached an agreement, despite progress.
Following the meeting, Georgian Dream chairman Irakli Kobakhidze said the negotiations “are going in the right direction,” adding that “certain positions have already been reconciled.” “It is principal that the opposition not start seeking some excuse to disrupt the negotiations,” he noted.
Commending the opposition for today’s constructive discussion, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze also confirmed that certain topics are “already set for agreement.” However, he underscored that the ruling party still considers calls for snap elections “unfounded.” “I am glad that the text of the agreement [currently] is being shaped in a way that more fairly expresses positions on all issues,” Talakvadze stressed.
Khatuna Samnidze, leader of the Republican Party, part of the United National Movement-led election bloc, noted that the parties made progress. Samnidze, like other leaders, however, refused to disclose specific details on the state of progress.
European Georgia party leader Giga Bokeria said “there can be no talk of results at this point,” and that today’s negotiations content-wise were “difficult.” Bokeria stated that the boycotting opposition would only enter the current “transitional” Parliament to work toward setting up snap elections.
Giorgi Vashadze of Strategy Agmashenebeli said the sides concluded today that there will be no agreement until a consensus is reached on all of the issues under dispute. Vashadze stressed that the release of alleged political prisoners and snap elections remain on the agenda.
Today’s gathering was also marred with controversy as Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili stormed out mid-meeting, announcing his party is leaving the EU mediation-based framework. Natelashvili found it unacceptable that electoral and justice reform took priority over snap elections and the release of “political prisoners” during today’s negotiations.
Noteworthy that two days ahead of today’s meeting, Christian Danielsson, who was expected to depart from Tbilisi on March 14, decided to extend his visit, claiming that the sides require more time to reach a consensus. He has since continued holding various separate meetings with leaders from the ruling party and the opposition.
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