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The global context of the Georgian crisis

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, March 17
Georgia has been in a chronic political crisis since the October 31 parliamentary elections. The European Union is concerned about this and is actively trying to find a solution for the government and the opposition bloc. A high-ranking Russian official has commented on the situation too, which has come as a surprise to many, accusing the United States of acting against the Georgian Dream, ostensibly because the current Georgian government is no longer obedient to Washington's instructions.

Amid the strained relations between the government and the opposition bloc, Sergei Naryshkin, Director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, said on March 9 that the United States was going to support the opposition in Georgia and push its European partners to do the same. According to him, the US' dissatisfaction is caused by the fact that the Georgian Dream no longer follows the Euro-Atlantic course unconditionally. The ruling political force will only avoid problems if it follows Washington's instructions exactly. There is a conclusion about the destruction of the Western course in general. "Georgia's example clearly demonstrates that the aspirations of individual national elites to gain Washington's patronage for their current tasks will soon lose de facto sovereignty and the ability to pursue independent policies both in the foreign arena and within the country," Naryshkin said.

Naryshkin's statement was immediately followed by a comment from the Georgian Foreign Ministry and was described as another manifestation of the hybrid war against Georgia. The new Russian provocation aims to deepen and provoke controversy inside Georgia, and to create distrust in the Georgian government outside the main strategic partner. The Foreign Ministry notes that Georgia's membership in the European and Euro-Atlantic family is a sovereign choice.

The government tried to use Narishkin's application in the internal political confrontation and the opposition. Lelo's Lana Galdava considers Narishkin's statement as the clear confirmation of the fact that the current government of Georgia is not following the Euro-Atlantic integration course and that Russia is trying to maintain its policies here. According to Galdava, "the Georgian government's attitude towards the Russian Federation has already replaced the previous 'careful' attitude toward the Russian Federation with the criminal capitulatory one." Russia is not only occupying Georgian territories, but intensively continues the hybrid war against Georgia.

It must be said that the Georgian Dream has long been accused of pursuing a capitulating policy towards Russia and deviating from the Western course. The opposition bloc sees the solution in the change of government, which will allow the country to return to the path of democratic and Western development.

Georgian Dream already has a traditional response to the accusations of being pro-Russian. For them, the pro-Russian force is Mikheil Saakashvili and the National Movement. "Russia has been trying to destabilize the Georgian Dream government for nine years. “The weapon of his attempt is always the same, Mikheil Saakashvili and the United National Movement,” Sozar Subari said.

In the conditions of heated confrontation, the main issue of Georgian policy is to find an opportunity to reach an agreement between the government and the opposition bloc. During his visit to Tbilisi, the President of the Council of Europe left a 6-point plan of reaching an agreement. Even after this visit, Georgia's european friends have been giving more advice on steps to defuse the crisis, but no tangible results have come out of it. The easiest advice to start with, which does not take much time, is the release of political prisoners - Nika Melia and Giorgi Rurua. This is also the opposition bloc's main condition for starting a dialogue. The most important one of these issues is the appointment of early parliamentary elections which "Georgian Dream" categorically refuses to hold and declares the demand as a ‘red line’.

However, if they really want to present themselves as a constructive force in the eyes of their Western friends, the government will have to take some steps in this direction. The solution was put forward by part of the opposition - to hold a plebiscite on whether the people want to hold early parliamentary elections. The plebiscite, if the government agrees, will be held in autumn in parallel with the local self-government elections. The early parliamentary elections, if the people support it, would be postponed to 2022. Georgian Dream categorically refuses to hold a plebiscite.

The request to hold a plebiscite is considered unnecessary and pointless by part of the opposition, primarily the National Movement. Mikheil Saakashvili also expressed a negative attitude towards this idea, but, as it has already been said, holding a plebiscite for the early parliamentary elections is a completely acceptable solution for part of the opposition, which could lead to the entry of these parties into parliament if Melia and Rurua are released.
(Translated from Georgian by Mariam Mchedlidze)