The PACE monitoring co-rapporteurs for Georgia, Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE), have expressed their concern at developments in Tbilisi.
“While no-one should be above the law, the police raid on the UNM Headquarters and the arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia have unnecessarily escalated tensions between the opposition and the ruling majority and deepened the political crisis in the country,” they said.
“Georgia’s democratic development needs restraint, dialogue and compromise, not escalation and confrontation,” said the two co-rapporteurs.
They called on all political forces to refrain from any actions that could further escalate tension, and to return to the negotiating table in order to find a political and mutually acceptable solution to resolve the ongoing crisis.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili addressed “healthy” parts of the opposition on February 23 evening, saying “we are ready for real dialogue at any time and in any format.”
The new-old Prime Minister proposed to “all reasonable opposition forces to enter the Parliament, so that we may use the country’s legislature as the main platform for discussion.” PM Garibashvili also said enforcing the law and the detention of Nika Melia, chair of the largest opposition UNM party was “a necessary condition for the reduction of radicalism in politics.”
Civil.ge offers opposition reactions to Garibashvili’s statement, as political crisis runs deep and tensions run high in the country.
Zaal Udumashvili of the United National Movement said „We are ready to sit down at the negotiating table, provided that Nika Melia will also be sitting at the table.”
European Georgia’s Giga Bokeria wondered: “How could the man, openly calling for the destruction of all the opponents, be [regarded] the supporter of a dialogue?!”
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Zurab Japaridze of the right-libertarian Girchi – More Freedom party said Garibashvili’s speech represents “a Russian and a criminal approach,” implying “I will imprison you, bully you and then I will come to talk to you.” This approach will not work out for them, Japaridze asserted.
He reiterated the opposition’s pre-conditions for the Georgian Dream government to stop “political persecution,” to release “political prisoners” and to hold new elections.
Lelo for Georgia’s Badri Japaridze said on his part: “I could not see a sign [in Garibashvili’s statement] for them [GD] to be truly eager to normalize the situation.”
During his confirmation hearing on February 22, Garibashvili called the major opposition parties’ parliamentary boycott “a deliberate sabotage against our state.” He then ruled out “categorically” any talks about holding snap elections.
The Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili made a statement, which we propose without change:
"My dear compatriots, We all have a homeland in common; we are the children of one country.
Georgia is facing challenges of the utmost importance today. The pandemic has further complicated the already difficult economic and social situation of our country and our people. We are also facing significant geopolitical challenges, as well as foreign policy goals.
We must all unite around these goals and challenges, regardless of our political beliefs and views.
One hundred years after the loss of the independence of the First Republic of Georgia and the Sovietization of Georgia, we must once again remember that the state and its independence are the greatest achievements for every one of us. Our statehood is also a necessary condition for Georgia's Western integration. Therefore, protecting the state and its laws is a duty and a responsibility shared by each and every one of us.
Yesterday, I presented the future vision of the government in the Parliament of Georgia. However, against the backdrop of a deliberate, insulting campaign against law enforcement officials - the hero police officers - I mainly had to talk about the destructive actions of the opposition, in addition to our common goals and challenges.
Today, the Ministry of Internal Affairs enforced a law, which was a necessary condition for the reduction of radicalism in politics and the establishment of fair relations.
The people's reaction to the enforcement of the law has confirmed that the rule of law is the main priority for the Georgian public. However, we are not counting the number of people gathered for the demonstration. Every citizen of our country is precious to us.
Today, now that the law has been enforced and the state has taken its due place, I would like to call on all political forces who hold the country dear to open a real and earnest dialogue and to talk not about what divides us, but about what must unite us.
Against the backdrop of the challenges facing the country, it is time for dialogue, not confrontation. I propose that all reasonable opposition forces enter Parliament, so that we may use the country's legislature as the main platform for discussion. As I mentioned yesterday, we are ready for real dialogue at any time and in any format.
Together, we must ensure the consolidation of our statehood and independence, the further strengthening of the democratic system, the overcoming of social and economic problems, and Georgia's integration into the European Union and NATO.
Our country has no time to lose.
Today is not the time for division - it is the time for unification.
May God be our protector!", - says the prime minister of Georgia.