After months of the deepening political crisis that followed the October 31 parliamentary elections, the ruling Georgian Dream and part of the boycotting opposition MPs signed the EU-mediated compromise on April 19. Yet, controversies persist: the United National Movement, the opposition party that got most of the votes in the elections, is divided about signing off on the compromise. Controversy has emerged regarding the scope and content of the proposed amnesty.
Civil Georgia asked Georgian pundits to reflect on the significance of the signed agreement and to assess the challenges ahead.
Kornely Kakachia, Professor at Tbilisi State University; Director of Georgian Institute of Politics, Tbilisi-based think tank:
This was a very important agreement, anticipated both by the country and the international community, and it is very good that these strenuous six months had such a positive ending. This was a compromise proposal and, in its essence, it cannot be fully favored by any of the involved parties. It is also clear that there can be questions over certain parts. However, as a whole, this is what the Georgian public wanted, and various opinion polls confirm this: the majority wanted the politics to move away from streets, into the parliament.
Most importantly, the agreement came with the engagement by the international community, particularly by the EU and personally the President of the European Council, which adds to its significance.
Now it is up to Georgian political elites to capitalize on this case and to deepen EU-Georgia relations since this is a win both for Georgia and the European Union.
This is certainly only the first step for mitigating the polarization of Georgian politics. The next step should be – as proposed by the European Parliament – for the Georgian political parties to engage in the Jean-Monnet Dialogue process, where Ukraine, the Balkan countries have been involved for years now, to attain de-polarization, institutionalize political parties, and achieve more mature democratic process – something that may take years.
One of the most important parts of the agreement itself is the fundamental reform of the Central Election Commission of Georgia, which needs to start immediately, and other points also need to be implemented. Some of the political parties may refuse to sign the deal, but it is their own choice how much they want to go against the flow.
Vakhushti Menabde, Director of the Democratic Institutions Support Program at the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Associate Professor at Ilia State University:
This deal is definitely very important and creates a good foundation for democratic reforms. Of course, one should not have an illusion that the implementation of a single document will bring about radical changes in the country.
The document lays the groundwork for confidence-building among the political parties, for democratic reforms, and allows the country to move to the consideration of real problems rather than long-time senseless arguments led by Georgian politicians among each other.
The issues foreseen in the agreement contain – in principle – the main directions necessary for the election reforms. Now it is important to put them into practice and we will definitely monitor how they are implemented. The judiciary is also in need of vital reforms, as we have already stressed.
Nobody has the illusion that the document will get rid of all problems. When we start working towards solving these problems, still much is left to be done.