The meeting between the opposition and the government mediated by Christian Danielsson, the Personal Representative of the President of the Council of Europe, began at 5 pm yesterday and lasted for 7 hours. The meeting at the EU Office was attended by EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel and US Ambassador Kelly Degnan.
Second mediation mission ends without an agreement
By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, April 1
After the meeting, Danielson noted that he offered the parties a solution to all the issues, although, unfortunately, none of the parties signed the document he proposed. He stressed that there is a solution to this crisis. “This decision includes electoral and justice reforms. This is the decision that involves the redistribution of power in Parliament. I have submitted a proposal for such a decision and it will now be a public document; This is the decision that puts the interests of the country first. It is unfortunate that no political party has agreed,” underscored the personal representative of the president of the European Council.
A detailed proposal made by the EU mediator reads: “We, the undersigned parties, take into account our shared interest to:
• End the current political dispute and advance Georgia’s democratic and rule of law agenda through political, judicial, and anti-corruption reforms;
• Enable our country to stay strong and united in meeting the health and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic;
• Ensure Georgia’s security and stability interests amid regional challenges;
• Act with further determination to fulfill Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations;
Recognizing the support from President of the European Council Charles Michel, we agree:
• To enter Parliament to fully participate in parliamentary business upon signing this agreement;
• To conduct our duties until the next parliamentary elections with mutual respect and in recognition of the importance of unity in the interest of Georgia’s stability.”
The elements of the agreement were addressing 5 main topics:
Within one week of signature of the agreement, a party represented in Parliament shall initiate an amnesty law for all violations and convictions stemming from the 19-21 June 2019 protests.
Parliament shall address the perception of politicized justice through legislation and amending the Rules of Procedure as necessary to require a higher than simple majority threshold for the lifting of parliamentary immunity.
Another element was the electoral reform with 11 topics, such as all future elections being fully proportional, changing the rule of electing the head of CEC, adopting the law concerning party financing to the Venice Commission recommendations, and such.
The judicial reform paragraph read that “Parliament shall adopt ambitious judicial reform in this Parliamentary term as the first step in a broad, inclusive and cross-party reform process.”
The proposal also suggested increasing power-sharing in the parliament through enabling opposition parties to head 5 committees. Opposition MPs shall also be assigned the position of 1 chairmanship among the following Parliament delegations to international fora: Euronest PA, EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the OSCE PA.
As for the future elections, the European Council’s version of the agreement recalled that international organizations have declared 2020 parliamentary elections as legitimate, thus suggesting the parties acknowledge their differing assessment of the 2020 elections and agree to take up their parliamentary mandates and participate in future elections based on the electoral reform agreed here above, in the interest of Georgia’s political stability and to implement this agreement. An International Observation Mission shall be requested by the Georgian authorities for the October 2021 local elections.
Recall that Danielsson also met with party representatives the previous day to prepare for the joint meeting. After the meeting, Danielsson said that on March 30, he would put on the table a text aimed at establishing a sustainable framework for the future as well as increasing confidence in the electoral process and the judiciary.
After the failure of the talks between the Georgian Dream and the opposition, Irakli Kobakhidze, the leader of the ruling party, said that "the real leader of the opposition forces, Mikheil Saakashvili, aimed at breaking the agreement from the very beginning."
Kobakhidze said that the Georgian Dream will implement the fundamental electoral reform on its responsibility, even without an agreement with the radical part of the opposition. Regarding the court, he said that Danielson's document reflected suggestions that the Georgian Dream was taking responsibility for revising the Organic Law on Common Courts, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, before submitting Supreme Court nominees to parliament for approval.
Speaker of Parliament Archil Talakvadze tweeted: "Even though the opposition bloc was not ready to sign, we’ll keep the judicial & electoral reforms from Danielsson's proposal. We are leaving doors open for parties to join Parliament.”
As for the case of Nika Melia, Kobakhidze says that in exchange for bail, the Georgian Dream was ready to pass an amnesty law on the June 20 case, but the opposition rejected the offer.
According to Salome Samadashvili, one of the leaders of the United National Movement, the agreement couldn’t be reached on two out of five topics, which were political prisoners and early elections. European Georgia leader Giga Bokeria and Zurab Japaridze, the leader of Girchi-More Freedom underlined that their position was principal on these issues. Samadashvili said the opposition bloc proposed to raise the issue of adopting a new constitution and holding early elections on its basis, however, GD didn’t accept it. As for another problematic issue, she commented that the amnesty, presented in the draft agreement, ‘should have referred to both political prisoners, namely Nika Melia and Giorgi Rurua’.