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EU mediator Danielsson holds a joint meeting with GD and the opposition bloc

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, March 18
After three days of intensive negotiations and an almost 2-day pause of the EU-mediated talks, on March 17, representatives of the government and the opposition resumed the dialogue. Christian Danielsson, Personal Representative of the President of the European Council, who is leading the EU-backed mediation effort in Georgia, held the first few joint meetings with the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition amid the current political tension. They are scheduled to meet again today.

“Very heavy and difficult negotiations,” a few leaders of the opposition parties described the content of the dialogue with the government. No agreement has been reached at the March 17 meeting. Details have not been specified, but several opposition members confirm that the talks address all points of the plan given by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and include the issues of political prisoners and early elections.

Opposition politicians who attended the meeting have unanimously claimed that the agreement with the ruling party will be reached only if the parties manage to agree on everything, not on certain issues.

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. There should be a specific decision in the agreement document on all issues. I can not tell you what will be written inside " said Giorgi Vashadze of Strategy Builder. The same pathos was in Khatuna Samnidze’s (Republicans) and Badri Japaridze’s (Lelo) comments.

According to Giga Bokeria, if the opposition enters ‘this illegitimate’ parliament, it will be a compromise on his part and such a decision will only be made if this entry serves to prepare for early elections and release of political prisoners.

Labor leader Shalva Natelashvili left the meeting in the EU office as a sign of protest. According to Natelashvili, he will return to the talks after the two main issues are resolved.

Salome Samadashvili, one of the leaders of the United National Movement, does not share Natelashvili's decision. According to her, it is a matter of negotiation technique that the conversation starts with easier topics. She assures that all points are being discussed, including the problem of elections and political prisoners.

Bokeria also responded to the Labor leader's statement by saying, "Mr. Shalva should have stayed until the end if he wanted to gather a complete picture."

Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Georgian Dream, expressed hope that the talks would continue and would end successfully on March 18. Kobakhidze said that the opposition violated the condition of non-disclosure. He responded to the statements of the opposition leaders and accused them of violating the agreement.

"I have seen the statements of the opposition and this is a gross violation of the terms we have agreed on with our international partners. We will not talk about any details of the negotiation. One of the main conditions we have is that no red lines should be crossed," the parliamentary majority leader said, adding, "They cursed Borrell [the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy] yesterday, talked about the red lines all day and today. This is a very difficult event. It shows their attitude towards European and Western institutions in general."

According to Kobakhidze, the situation of the opposition is getting worse day by day due to Borrell's statement. He also said after the meeting that the process is going in the right direction if the opposition does not try to find reasons to disrupt the talks. Hoping that the agreement will be reached tomorrow, the ruling party chair said the Georgian Dream will have ‘an absolutely constructive approach’.

Chairman of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze reinstated that there are no grounds for calling early elections. He noted that despite their differences, the parties have tried to find common grounds.