In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.
Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.
We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;
Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;
Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;
Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.
My expectations from Christian Danielsson's visit to Georgia and from our Western friends and Partners, in generalWednesday, 31 March 2021 12:20
“In principle, the processes developed exactly as during the previous negotiations. The negotiators failed to propose a text that would be acceptable to the Georgian Dream,” Zurab Japaridze, leader of Girchi -More Freedom party, said after a joint meeting between the opposition and government officials.
According to him, the Georgian Dream was not ready to agree to any points in the document and sign it. My expectations from Christian Danielsson's visit to Georgia and from our Western friends and Partners, in general.
The country is in a profound crisis. The economy is practically ruined. The investments have stopped, nobody wants to risk bringing their money in here. On top of that there is COVID-19 pandemic and the worsened security environment in the region. Against this background the Government manages to retain power through taking new multi-billion loans, through spreading propaganda based on lies and through utilizing the security agencies.
The political crisis, which instead of receding, has intensified following the 2020 Parliamentary elections, has acquired catastrophic magnitude as a result of the arrest of the chairman of the largest opposition party, the announcement of the de-facto chair of the ruling party that he was leaving politics and the resignation of the de-facto Prime Minister.
In a situation like this, for any country, which wishes to be perceived as a democracy, there is only one way to resolve crisis – new elections. But Georgian Dream claims that this is a “red line” for them.
In reality, it is not the new elections that are a “red line”. The red line for the Georgian Dream, is the loss of power. They are afraid to lose power as a result of fair elections, not just elections per se. Let’s not kid ourselves- this is the real “red line”.
Against this backdrop and taking into consideration the multitude of serious challenges mentioned above, our Western friends have decided to help us and to assume the role of the mediator between the de-facto authorities and the opposition. For this, they deserve our gratitude, especially the EU and US Ambassadors.
Several rounds of negotiations have ended without any result and now we are all expecting the second visit of the EU Council President’s special envoy, Mr. Daniellson with the hope that we can finally reach some agreement and resolve the political crisis.
However, at this moment it is not at all clear what can possibly happen during the second visit of Mr. Danielsson that will drastically change the dynamics of the negotiations and bring us to the agreement.
That is why, I have decided to publicly state what are my personal expectations as regards this visit and where I see the solution.
In my opinion, the five clauses outlined by the EU Council President indicate very precisely what exactly are the dire shortcomings that Georgia has. Without solving them, any discourse about addressing other issues and external threats, is quite simply, meaningless:
1) Political persecution must end, as using judicial system against the political opponents is incompatible with the Western/European values. Therefore, political prisoners must be set free
2) The courts must be independent and must not be ruled by a clan loyal to any one person or any one party, because such courts are incompatible with Western/European values
3) Power must be shared and the opposition has to be equipped with real tools to have a political impact, because power concentrated entirely in the hands of any one person or any one party is incompatible with the Western/European values
4) The elections should be free and fair, because the situation whereby not a single party or political leader voted for by the half of the voters, recognizes the results of the elections and trusts the electoral administration or courts, is incompatible with the Western/European values. Elections must be conducted in a fully proportional system, with a natural barrier threshold, as this is the only remedy against the existing polarization, as well as against the decades long malicious practice of one-party and one-man rule.
5) When in a deep crisis such as we have today, with all the threats that Georgia faces, the Government should have the sense of responsibility to set the day for new elections. Only authoritarian rulers do otherwise and this is not compatible with Western/European values.
I expect that these will be the messages of Mr. Danielsson during his second visit.
Moreover, I expect that similar messages will be voiced by all our Western friends.
This is the only solution in the current circumstances, because this is the truth.
The attempts to modify or “soften” this truth with messages such as “both sides are responsible for this situation” or “both sides have to find it in them to overcome the differences and come to a compromise” are doomed.
Because this is not the truth.
After the eight-year rule by Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream, I do not understand where is my responsibility when it comes to:
- political persecution of the opposition;
- politicized judiciary managed by a clan;
- election system and administration that are at service of the ruling party;
- concentration of all power in the hands of one man who is not occupying any official position;
- extreme polarization of the political spectrum, the main architect of which is Georgian Dream, which has spent eight years on hate propaganda and has chosen the “middle ground elimination”, as its main political competition strategy at each election.
I also do not understand what can possibly be a compromise, as far as the clauses left by the EU Council President are concerned, except for technical details.
- Leave some control over judiciary to Ivanishvili?
- Allow for somewhat unfair elections, so that GD prolongs its rule?
- Leave all power levers for Ivanishvili and agree to some symbolic changes?
- Disregard all the above and come to terms with the Ivanishvili’s rule for the next four years?
That’s impossible. More than that, to agree to that would be irresponsible, would be equivalent to ignoring the problems and further prolonging the crisis.
Our Western partners have to realize this and therefore change the approach towards the negotiation process.
Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze is grateful to the European Council President Charles Michel and special envoy Christian Danielsson for their mediation leadership.
“Even though the opposition was not ready to sign, we’ll guide judicial and electoral reforms by Danielsson’s proposal. We leave doors open for parties to join,” Talakvadze tweeted.
The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the opposition could not agree on a solution, Christian Danielsson briefed reporters following the hours-long joint meeting between GD and the opposition on Tuesday.
The opposition failed to provide any evidence on elections fraud. But, we showed evidence that the radical opposition forged the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) results”, Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairman of the Georgian Dream party, said after a joint meeting mediated by EU mediator Christian Danielsson.
“Today, the international partners presented a document in which there was no record, either directly or indirectly, on any snap elections,” he added.
Kobakhidze stated that the document by Danielsson included GD’s proposal on Nika Melia’s case. “In particular, in case of paying bail, Georgian Dream pledged to ensure application of amnesty bill in the June 20th case. However, the opposition rejected this solution,” he said.
Christian Danielsson, a personal envoy of the European Council President Charles Michel, said after the talks today that none of the parties agreed on a solution.
Besides, EU mediator Christian Danielson published the proposals made to political parties.
Danielsson said he proposed a solution to the parties that puts the country interest first, but none of the political parties could agree to it. EU mediator has already left for Brussels.
Danielsson returned to Tbilisi for the second time on Sunday to help the opposition and the government reaching an agreement. He first arrived in Tbilisi on March 12. After a five-day mediation that ended with no result, he left the country.
Charles Michel announced on March 22 that Christian Danielsson would travel back to Georgia to help the parties to agree.
The Georgian opposition parties that won seats in the Georgian Parliament of the 10th Convocation believe the 2020 parliamentary elections were a fraud. They have been demanding repeat parliamentary elections and the release of the United National Movement Chair, Nika Melia, and the co-founder of the TV channel Mtavari Arkhi Giorgi Rurua.
EU mediator Christian Danielsson publishes proposal made yesterday to the Georgian political partiesWednesday, 31 March 2021 11:05
President Michel mandates Christian Danielsson to engage as personal envoy, in EU-mediated political dialogue in GeorgiaTuesday, 09 March 2021 11:32
Christian Danielsson has been mandated by President Michel, in cooperation with High Representative Borrell, to engage in the EU-backed mediation effort in Georgia, in follow up to the relaunch of the political dialogue during President Michel’s visit to Tbilisi on 1 March.
Mr. Danielsson will mediate the relaunched dialogue among Georgia's political parties, working closely with the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, Carl Hartzell, with the aim to overcome the current political tensions in Georgia.
Mr. Danielsson will be travelling to Georgia in the coming days to engage with all stakeholders to the process.
President Michel and the High Representative Borrell encourage all political actors in Georgia to commit fully to the dialogue in a constructive spirit and with a view to pursuing mutually agreeable outcomes, in the interest of a stable, democratic and reform-oriented Georgia, able to successfully advance on its pro-European path.
Christian Danielsson was formerly Permanent Representative for Sweden before he became Deputy Secretary-General of the European Commission in 2011. In 2013 he became Director-General for Enlargement and in 2015 he was appointed Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. He is currently the Head of the European Commission's Representation in Sweden.
Press release of the Council of the European Union