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Political crisis in Georgia and Western vision of its overcoming

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, March 31
The political crisis continues in Georgia as the opposition parties and Georgian Dream are unable to reach an agreement. On the positive note, however, the western friends have explicitly reiterated Georgia as their strategic partner. The Council of Europe representative Kristian Danielon will revisit Georgia and seek to discuss the existing crisis. Prior to this visit, the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate discussed the situation in Georgia on March 23.

The reason for the interest of the West is to be explained by critical development of the politics in Georgia. According to the international partners, if there is no resolution to the crisis in Georgia, the country will lose the prospect of democratic development, the possibility of entry into NATO and take away from the European Union from the agenda. It is also observed that Russia has benefited from the crisis in Georgia and its continuation. Russia has dramatically strengthened the positions after the second war in the South Caucasus. If the Russian influence in Georgia will return the open or hidden pro-Russian forces to Georgia, it will be a great failure of the 30-year efforts of the West, the efforts to ensure Georgia's democratic development.

This is the reason for the western friends' concern. However, neither the european meditators nor those in the US haven't picked their side between the opposition and the government.The responsibility in the existing crisis is restricted to both sides. Criticism of the government is multilateral - the quality of conducting elections, the court politics, the existence of political prisoners. Overall, the essence of these critical statements will be taken into one big problem - the country's democratic development is seriously delayed and urgently needs reforms. But in spite of the criticism, the Georgian government's statement has not been placed on the western course of the country. The main demand for the opposition is to enter the Parliament to continue working for the necessary reforms from the legislative body.

Judging from the statements of the representatives of the government and the opposition, they have drawn diametrically opposite conclusions, as from the negotiations with Danielson's mediation, as well as from statements made in the US Senate Committee. According to the representatives of the Georgian Dream, the failure of mediated talks is the opposition's fault. According to the statements of the opposition representatives, the Georgian government became an object of strong criticism and he must draw fruitful conclusions from this criticism.

The opposition in the boycott mode has two main requirements: releasing political prisoners, and snap parliamentary elections. Then, the opposition agrees to enter the parliament to reform the electoral system and other issues. The government refuses to negotiate these requests, and states that the Georgian Dream is going to win the 2024 elections.

Snap elections are supposed to be a good solution from the political crisis created in a democratic country, but the Georgian Dream cannot take the idea of losing power. The chance of winning the snap elections is very low for Georgian Dream, especially with a proportional system. Recently published results of the NDI survey state that 23% of respondents support the Georgian Dream party (the figure in December 2020 was 31%), the United National Movement - 7% (in December 2020- 5%), and other parties - 7%. More than half of the respondents said that they do not support any parties or refused to answer. As a result of the more or less normally conducted elections, the Georgian Dream will lose the government, which is likely to move to the coalition of the opposition parties.

In front of the second round of negotiations with Danielon's second round, it is hard to say what will happen - the opposition categorically refuses to enter Parliament, hoping that Georgian Dream will agree to implement democratic reforms. If, for example, in the neighboring Armenia, the snap parliamentary elections are held to deal with the crisis, why can't it be a solution in Georgia? Some have speculated that the ruling team is preparing for snap elections. Former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said he was not going to leave politics, which means that he is going to create his own political party.

It is clear that in case the second round of talks fail, the crisis will deepen, revealing the true nature of the opposing teams the international mediators.
(Translated from Georgian by Mariam Mchedlidze)