Difficult dialogue – what they say in Brussels and Tbilisi

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According to statements made in Brussels on March 16, Christian Danielson, the personal representative of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, will present concrete proposals to the government and the opposition in the coming days to reach an agreement. The Prime Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili, who is in Brussels, made it clear at a press conference after the meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council that the Georgian Dream is not going to call snap elections or release political prisoners. The opposition has been waiting for the meeting with Christian Danielson in Tbilisi all day. The background was strained by the harsh statements made by the chairman of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, against the opposition.

The next parliamentary elections in Georgia will be held in 2024, and the release of detainees is not a decision of the government – Irakli Gharibashvili said at a joint press conference in Brussels after the meeting of the Association Council, reiterating that the government does not plan to compromise with the opposition.

“Are you considering holding new elections in your country?” Are you considering releasing opposition politicians? ” – Irakli Gharibashvili answered the question of Radio Liberty correspondent Richard Jozwiak at the press conference as follows:

“Politics is not immunity. If a politician commits a crime or illegal act, he should be held accountable and responsible for it. It is not up to me to decide whether or not to release the prisoners. It is up to the rule of law and the judiciary to decide whether to arrest or release someone.

It’s not up to me to decide whether to hold snap elections. This is clearly written in the Constitution. We had very free and fair elections in October 2020. All international organizations, OSCE / ODIHR-“He and all international observers have recognized these elections as free, fair and competitive, and therefore the next parliamentary elections in Georgia will be held in 2024.” .

OSCE Democratic Institutions And human’s Rights OfficeHe“(OSCE / ODIHR) The report on the 2020 election says it was competitive and protected fundamental freedoms. The text does not use the highest rating – “free and fair”.

European Commission Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told a joint news conference that during a political dialogue, Irakli Gharibashvili had expressed readiness to work constructively on the agreement and that the opposition would be required to do the same.

Borrell said Christian Danielson will present a concrete offer to the parties in the coming days and a compromise will be needed to achieve a mutually acceptable outcome.

What are they talking about in the EU

The EU envoy told RFE / RL anonymously that Irakli Gharibashvili, like yesterday, had met with European Council President Charles Michel, who is personally overseeing the political dialogue, and that he had sent his personal representative in Tbilisi, Swedish diplomat Christian Dizavag.

According to the same source, yesterday’s conversation between Gharibashvili and Michelle was assessed as “very difficult”.

According to the EU representative:

  • During the visit of President Michel to Tbilisi on March 1, an agreement was reached that the parties will hold talks on 5 key issues, namely: Judicial reform, electoral reform, political justice, upcoming elections, and redistribution of power in parliament;
  • The discussion will continue and Christian Danielson in the coming days Submits concrete proposals to the parties in order to overcome the contradictions;
  • Danielson in Georgia Can not stay “forever”, But his visit is likely to continue until an agreement is reached;
  • Political players are required to be constructive because time is running out and The Georgian people will not be able to afford the luxury of political conflict;
  • Political energy should be directed at fighting the pandemic, eliminating the socio-economic problems caused by it, and Towards consolidating democracy in a geostrategically difficult region.

The opposition had been waiting all day for a meeting with Christian Danielson on March 16. There was an assumption that the pause was related to the ongoing processes in Brussels, where Prime Minister Gharibashvili had to talk about political dialogue at every step. The trial opened on March 15 with a two-step, several-hour conversation with Charles Michel. In parallel with this meeting, representatives of the Georgian Dream met with Christian Danielson in Tbilisi.

On March 16, before the opening of the 6th session of the Association Council, Irakli Gharibashvili also met with Josep Borrell in a face-to-face dialogue format and said after the meeting:

Speaking of Line Was filled Current Political Processes Constructive, Of dialogue Mode Leading Necessity. Still I confirmed Ours Government Readiness EU With support Current On the result Focused For dialogue And hope I expressed, that Opposition Constructive Dialogue Continues.

After meeting with Christian Danielson, Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream, said that there was a real chance for the positions to converge, and that this should be done despite the fact that the opposition leaders are people with criminal backgrounds.

Kobakhidze personally named Mikheil Saakashvili, Nika Melia and Gigi Ugulava; And his list of accused parties is much longer:

“Let’s list the parties that have a criminal past: the” National Movement “itself was at the head of the regime,” European Georgia “is its branch,” Strategy Builder “is its branch,” Girchi “is its branch … It is all one The various branches of the party, which have a criminal past and hence their positions … I forgot “Lelo”, it was also a kind of branch of the “National Movement”, because together they were doing business in their time. ”

At the same briefing, Kobakhidze also accused the opposition of falsifying the results of the parallel election counting (PVT) conducted by the non-governmental organization ISFED.

The opposition is not surprised by such harsh rhetoric from Irakli Kobakhidze and the labeling of criminals. However, during the difficult and time-consuming dialogue under the auspices of the European Union, the opposition views Kobakhidze’s statements as an attempt to disrupt this process.

Majority Representative Giorgi Khelashvili called on the opposition from the parliament on March 16 to stop trying in recent months. “Maximize the political crisis” Recognize that the support of international partners is not on their side, but on the side of the “Georgian Dream” and return to the parliament.

“The current visit of the Prime Minister clearly shows that any attempt by the opposition is not only in vain, but doomed to a complete collapse.

“The actions of the opposition do not hurt the government, but the state as a whole, so we call on the opposition to adequately understand the failure of their international efforts and return to parliamentary political dialogue, which still has a future perspective.”, – said Giorgi Khelashvili.

Expert Gia Khukhashvili tells RFE / RL that harsh rhetoric serves to oust the opponent and then blame him for disrupting the process.

“The task of the government has never been to reach an agreement with the opposition, but they do not want to mix anything with the EU … so they are trying to create the situation when the other side is accused of disrupting the talks.

Therefore, waving a red cloth on the Georgian political corrida, of which Kobakhidze is a pretty good master, serves this task. “Maybe he will take the opposition out of the party, make a mistake and then point the finger that these are unconstructive.” – Gia Khukhashvili tells us.

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