On July 7, Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili held the first meeting to consider the strategy for tackling 12 recommendations put forth by the European Commission for EU candidacy to Georgia. The largest opposition faction, the United National Movement was absent, although – despite controversy – some of the smaller opposition groups were present.
Reported in attendance were Khatuna Samnidze, of the Republican Party, Ana Buchukuri (For Georgia), Sandro Rakviashvili (Girchi), and Levan Ioseliani, (Citizens). Apart from the Speaker, the Georgian Dream was represented by the Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee, Anri Okhanashvili, and Chair of the Human Rights and Civic Integration Committee, Mikheil Sarjveladze.
The United National Movement, the largest opposition party, along with Lelo for Georgia, European Georgia, and Strategy Aghmashenebli refuse to take part in the process so far.
Ruling party dismay
MP Okhanashvili expressed dismay at the absent opposition saying “the European Commission trusts our team and trusted our team, our people, and the government in general, both the majority and the opposition, that we will be able to work together.”
“The transition to cooperation cannot happen if we are constantly in the mode of aggression toward each other,” he emphasized. “The country’s interests for us are more important than the party’s interests, that is why we are ready to announce a moratorium on aggressive rhetoric, campaigning, and so on.”
MP Sarjveladze underscored “The main thing is that on the part of the government steps have been taken towards reducing polarization and that work should continue with this leitmotif towards the other 11 steps, I can clearly confirm that there is readiness for this and this is exactly what was said at the meeting.”
Attending Opposition Assesses Meeting
MP Buchukuri questions GD’s commitment to dialogue: “I personally asked the question of what compromises the Georgian Dream is willing to make as the government and one of the main sources of polarization. To be honest, we did not hear a tangible and equivocal answer from them.” However, she emphasized that For Georgia will “continue taking part in all processes.” Expressing disappointment at UNM not being present, she nonetheless said the key responsibility rests with GD, as the governing party.
MP Samnidze of the Republicans reacted to proposals of MP Okhanashvili to create a committee to monitor the political rhetoric: “[Depolarization] does not mean monitoring and controlling my words, then [I am] writing reports and sending them somewhere, it means concrete compromises and steps towards each other,” MP Samnidze said. She admitted this was a slow process, arguing that “society will see who is taking steps towards this [and] Georgian Dream is not ready.”
Underscoring that she will not participate in the ruling party’s committees, the MP said the ruling party are simply trying “to shift the blame: by saying “come work with me…if you don’t work [together] we don’t receive [the EU candidate] status.” She argues “none of us [from the opposition] must give them an excuse, as difficult as it may be, to bury this process.”
MP Rakviashvili stated, “If the process goes forward and it is not just talking, the problem of polarization will naturally be removed because the main problem is that we cannot cooperate… We are not obliged to love each other but we can [show] that [we can] cooperate with each other… That is, when the work on draft laws begins in the committees, it should be very constructive, very understandable, and not something formalistic.”
MP Ioseliani said ruling party MPs expressed readiness “to resolve these issues to finally get the result and candidate status.”
“Everyone is being observed with a magnifying glass, not only the government, but also the opposition, and the responsibility of the opposition is to participate in this process, no one can ask the opposition to fulfill these 12 points, we cannot fulfill them [on our own],” the MP emphasized.