Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili continues to meet with representatives of opposition parties as part of the “Unity Platform for Europe” initiative, which she had announced in her annual address to Parliament on February 6. In addition, Zurabishvili began to hold meetings with representatives of civil society organizations.
On February 8, President Zurabishvili met with opposition leaders Roman Gotsiridze of the political group “Euro-optimists” and Zviad Dzidziguri of the “Conservative Party.” After the meeting both spoke to journalists about the President’s initiative and the goals of the platform.
Roman Gotsiridze, the representative of the political group “Euro-optimists” said that a charter will be drawn up within the platform. According to him, the charter will include issues such as Georgia’s integration into the EU, the unification of the country and the resolution of the confrontation. He hailed the fact that Zurabishvili had initiated a platform and said that she is fulfilling her role as a unifier of the nation, as defined by the Constitution.
Zviad Dzidziguri, the Chair of the Conservative party, said that the President’s active involvement in the country’s political processes holds considerable significance and “can have a positive impact if there is enough support”. According to him, Zurabishvili “gives the political opposition an opportunity to create another format where they will have a chance to state their positions and take concrete steps towards Euro-integration”. He added that there will be a chance for these parties to work in cooperation rather than in confrontation.”
On January 9, President Zurabishvili met with the former leader of the main Georgian opposition party, the “United National Movement”, Nika Melia. She also met with the members of the “Citizens,” Aleko Elisashvili and Ketevan Turazashvili. President Zurabishvili also held talks with representatives of CSOs: Nino Chkhobadze, the Chair of Greens Movement of Georgia,” and Lasha Tughushi, the Director of the Liberal Academy of Tbilisi. The final meeting of the day was with representatives of the opposition party “European Georgia“, including Giga Bokeria and Gigi Tsereteli, as well as Tamar Chergoleishvili, founder of the online media Tabula, who happens to be Bokeria’s wife.
Nika Melia, former leader of the UNM told journalists that “the opposition spectrum can find common ground” through the President’s initiative. He noted that Zurabishvili’s vision on several issues, citing in particular the judiciary and the fight against corruption, coincide with his own. Melia also stated that he will participate “in all processes that serve and aim at the formation of a [normal] state” and that he is not interested in “who sits at the table” but in “the results that should be achieved through negotiations and [joint] work.”
Aleko Elisashvili, the leader of “Citizens” said that the talks with the President were mainly focused on the upcoming parliamentary elections and what certain actors and institutions, including opposition politicians, the President and the Parliament, can do to hold them in a peaceful manner. He also said that there were no talks about the creation of a specific political union.
Nino Chkhobadze, Chairperson of the “Greens Movement of Georgia (Friends of the Earth)”, said that the discussions focused on environmental issues, including the recent tragic landslide in the village of Nergeti, Baghdadi Municipality, along with existing challenges and potential solutions. She added that the talks also covered the EU’s 9 steps that Georgia needs to fulfill and how the civil sector should be involved in achieving them.
Lasha Tughushi, Director of the Foundation “Liberal Academy of Tbilisi,” informed the President about the package of legislative initiatives registered in the Parliament, dealing with issues such as the judiciary, the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Prosecutor’s Office. According to him, this package of initiatives corresponds to the 9 steps outlined by the EU.
Giga Bokeria, leader of “European Georgia”, expressed skepticism about the president’s program. He stated that “there are no discussions about any form of [political] unification”. He also said that his party is not interested in talks that are unlikely to produce results: “The discussions are about determining the necessary consensus for changes, especially for our Euro-Atlantic integration, to proceed to the next stage of accession to the EU,” – Bokeria noted. Commenting on the specific issues discussed during the meeting, Bokeria mentioned that the talks centered on judicial reforms and his party’s position on the jury court system.
This article was updated on 10/02/2024 at 13:25 to include comments from Nino Chkhobadze, Lasha Tughushi, and Giga Bokeria.