GD, Opposition on Mediation Ahead of EU Diplomat’s Tbilisi Return
With Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel’s special envoy to mediate Georgia’s political crisis, expected to return to Tbilisi in the coming hours, the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition talked expectations regarding the negotiations. Opposition hinted entering the current Parliament, should the parties agree on the principal demands.
Senior Georgian Dream lawmaker Mamuka Mdinaradze said at the briefing today, that the ruling party remains ready “to negotiate with even the most radical [parts of] opposition.” He noted, that the GD has already proposed compromises during the EU-mediated talks, including on electoral and judicial reform.
“Shall the opposition make any constructive step, we would already be able to conclude the negotiations,” MP Mdinaradze stated, highlighting that the overcoming impasse is in the interests of the country.
At today’s briefing, the GD Parliamentary Faction Chair also referred to the U.S. Senate’s hearing on Georgia. According to MP Mdinaradze, the Senate confirmed top opposition leader Nika Melia was not detained on political grounds but for undermining the rule of law by breaking his bail terms. He also highlighted that the U.S. Senate reiterated OSCE/ODIHR’s assessment of the October 2020 elections as “competitive with, overall, fundamental freedoms respected.”
The boycotting opposition, on its part, issued a joint statement today regarding the EU-mediated talks, expressing readiness to enter the current Parliament should an agreement be reached with the ruling party over key issues.
The opposition underscored its “flexible position” regarding their key demand of early elections, in terms of both the date, as well as on how they will be scheduled. The opposition parties said some of them are even willing to hold a plebiscite over the topic. The statement, however, reiterated the opposition’s rejection of deciding the matter based on the outcome of the upcoming self-government elections, as allegedly proposed by GD during the talks earlier in March.
The opposition also underscored their principal goal is not GD’s confession about having opponents arrested on political grounds, but rather the release of UNM Chairperson Nika Melia and pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV shareholder, Giorgi Rurua by any means in itself. The release would “automatically resolve” the demand, they said.
As for electoral reform, the opposition said the next elections should be held within a fully-proportional, zero threshold system, or within a very similar system. “This is the only way to end both the current polarization and decades-long one-party rule,” the parties said.
The opposition parties also spoke of the reform to prevent ruling party dominance in the election administration, as well as replacing the High Council of Justice, “an institution completely devoid of [public] trust,” as the first step in judiciary reform.
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