Members of the opposition and civil society responded to the ruling Georgian Dream party’s refusal today to attend the special parliament session convoked by President Salome Zurabishvili, thus preventing it from taking place. The President had called for the session after a part of the opposition and independent MPs implored her to do so in order to begin the process of working on the European Commission’s 12 recommendations for EU candidate status.
Here is a sampling of the reactions:
While speaking with journalists, United National Movement MP Levan Bezhashvili stated that by refusing to attend the special session, the Georgian Dream has expressed its unwillingness to work on the Commission’s recommendations.
MP Bezhashvili disagreed with the ruling party’s assertion that these issues must first be discussed within the committees and asserted that this could have been done during the session as well. By barring it from taking place, “they deny us the European Perspective of Georgia,” he said.
Mikheil Daushvili, For Georgia MP, emphasized that the ruling party’s rejection prevented the country from taking a step toward depolarization and European integration. “[They] boycotted the country and their own citizens,” MP Daushvili added.
Strategy Aghmashenebeli leader Giorgi Vashadze said, “Today Georgian Dream experienced a real strategic failure because we [the initiators of the special session] have laid their intentions bare, both within the country, towards our citizens as well as to our Western partners. But they must experience a larger political defeat in the fall, in order for us to finally receive the status of an EU candidate country.”
“The barred doors to the [plenary hall] are a symbol of how they want to tarnish the perspective of Georgia, prevent the EU from taking hold [and] to leave us face to face with Russia,” he emphasized. “Unfortunately, these barred doors are a symbol of the fight against Georgia’s national interests, which the Georgian Dream has unleashed.”
Lelo for Georgia’s MP Davit Usupashvili, former speaker of the Parliament, took an issue with the ruling party’s assertion that special session can’t take place since the draft decision have not been agreed in the committees. He said if the parliament is declared to be in special session, the committee hearings can take place in this framework.
Independent MP Shalva Shavgulidze underscored, “the task of the Georgian Dream is not to integrate our country into the EU. They are doing everything to prevent this from happening, and at the same time, they are trying to do it in such a way as to either blame the opposition or the European Union itself.”
Transparency International – Georgia Responds
“We call on the members of the parliamentary majority to discuss the issues raised by the special session at the committee hearing, to attend the special session and to support the legislative changes that will advance our country on the path of European integration,” Transparency International – Georgia declared in a statement today.
TI assessed the session to be an important step towards depolarization and called on the ruling party “not to refuse constructive cooperation, [and] to promote the restoration of trust.”
Per the civil society organization, it is “the responsibility of the ruling party to contribute to reducing polarization, not only by offering cooperation to the opposition within the format it created but by confirming the willingness to fulfill the European Union’s requirements by enacting specific changes.”
TI emphasized the refusal to participate in the session will be perceived as a denial to constructively cooperate and to implement real reforms.