May 12, Tbilisi. Georgia- At the initiative of the Brussels and Georgian Offices of the Open Society Foundations, an online discussion was held under the auspices of Member of the European Parliament Petras Auštrevičius (ALDE / Lithuania): “How Georgia can restore political stability and reform momentum?!
The discussion concerned the document of the European Council President Charles Michel and its subsequent execution. The meeting was attended by members of the European Parliament from almost all political groups and representatives of civil society.
The keynote speakers were EU Mediator Christian Danielsson, MEPs Petras Auštrevičius, Andrius Kubilius, Anna Fotyga, Open Society Foundation’s representatives Keti Khutsishvili from Georgia and Iskra Kirova from the Brussels office. Shota Digmelashvili and Bakur Kvashilava also participated in the panel discussion.
Excerpts from the speakers’ speeches:
Christian Danielsson, Personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia
The 19th April agreement concluded the six month long negotiations and created a real opportunity to end political crisis in Georgia. The document contains a number of very important provisions that can have lasting impact on the shape and form of the Georgian democracy.
Much time has been devoted to the issues of electoral reform, which is one of the most problematic issues in Georgian politics, both in the past and in the present. No less important are the proposed steps towards reforming the justice system. Democracy does not exist without a sound foundation of the rule of law. This agreement is a good start for taking another step in the justice reform process. With the power-sharing mechanisms, Georgia has a chance to create a progressive parliamentary model. It was important to explain to the political actors what was at stake and why the new document had to be agreed upon. For the EU to play a major role as Georgia’s genuine friend, it is important that Georgia takes the steps to implement the agreement. In the short term, the amnesty law needs to be agreed upon. At the same time, work needs to continue on electoral reform. In addition, it is important to pay more attention to the management of the Covid pandemic, building a more resilient economy, meeting the environmental and climate challenges and the necessary digital transformation.
Petras Auštrevičius, Member of European Parliament, Renew Europe, Lithuania
The purpose of this meeting is not to criticize Georgia or to highlight some already known problems, but to draw conclusions, to learn from the situation and to take concrete steps in the future.
Georgia’s modern history has witnessed the time period of extreme political polarization and tensions. In fact, the political system of the country stopped working and lead to disillusionment of the great part of the public. The political problems must be solved by political views. That’s why we observed a very close and effective involvement of the European Union in providing mediation. And again, the European Union’s involvement was unprecedented, although to my mind, it’s very logical and proportional to partnership agreement the European Union has with Georgia. We have to acknowledge that Georgia had suffered reputational damage and now the country must not miss the opportunity to successfully implement the agreement named The Way to Georgia.
Keti Khutsishvili, Open Society Georgia Foundation
The involvement of the European Union has clearly demonstrated the success of European foreign policy in Georgia. The process also proved that the relations with the European Union and the European integration process are important and a priority for most Georgian political parties. They listen to Brussels and despite the difficulties, are still open to compromise and consensus. Georgian civil society did not participate directly in negotiations, but this is understandable, as plenty political actors were already involved in the process. We are now ready to oversee the implementation of the reforms announced in the document, and we need from you as much work, as much effort and energy as you have put up to now. I would like to say thanks to the MEPs for their critical statements, which help us, on the one hand, to keep the government on the path to Europe, and on the other hand, ensure that the political parties do not break their promises.
Shota Dighmelashvili, Leader of “Shame Movement”
The EU set an example with an enhanced commitment to the political stability and democratic development of Georgia, regrettably, not always shared by the local politicians. And this brings me back to the question whether we are reassured by the steps to defuse the crisis. However, as President Michel pointed himself, this agreement is not the finish line, but the starting point. It is important that the deal doesn’t stay on the paper but is really implemented. There should be an effective mechanism to monitor the implementation of the agreement and there should be a process reaction when the spirit of the agreement is threatened. The real decision-makers should take the main responsibility.
Andrius Kubilius, Member of the European Parliament from Lithuania, Co-Chair of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, European People’s Party
The document obtained through the mediation of Charles Michel should be seen as a first step to a much bigger and much larger agreement, which is very much needed for political community in Georgia. The EU should formulate a clear message about the future of the Eastern Partnership and provide the leading countries within this program with the answer about the next step in their relationship with the EU. I would also like to comment on the arrest of members of the opposition and point out that the prosecution runs counter to the basic principles of the document obtained through the mediation of Charles Michel and is not quite based on the principle of rule of law.
Bakur Kvashilava, Dean of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, School of Law and Politics
The agreement reached with the help of Christian Danielsson has eased the crisis in Georgia, but it may become an important document that will contribute to the democratization process in Georgia. It is true that Georgia is a country of electoral democracy, but we have never been free. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, polarization remains one of the most important challenges to Georgia’s democratization. Since gaining independence, all Georgian authorities have sought to control all branches of government, the second stage being the control of the media and civil society.
Anna Fotyga, Member of the European Parliament from Poland, Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Georgia-EU Association, European Conservative and Reformist Group
The security situation in the region is becoming more and more complicated. Therefore, my compliments for security stance of every government of Georgia ever, including current one, for maintaining the possibility for Georgia to successfully come closer to Euro-Atlantic structures. I believe that opposition’s being outside the parliament hinders the democratization of the country and that both the opposition and the government need to ensure that the EU-mediated agreement is properly implemented.
Contact for the press: Ana Toklikishvili, Communications Manager, Open Society Georgia Foundation, E-mail: