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The first steps on the way to implementing the agreement

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, May 5
On April 16, the first tangible steps were taken to implement the agreement reached through the mediation of Charles Michel - opposition political parties that signed the agreement appeared in parliament, Giorgi Rurua was released from prison, but it is already clear from the fact that two bills on amnesty were adopted simultaneously, that the implementation of the agreement will have serious difficulties.

The April 16 agreement marked a new dividing line in Georgian politics. The opposition in the boycott mode was divided into two parts. Twelve lawmakers were added to the legislature, but the document was not signed by the largest opposition party, the National Movement, and several other smaller parties (Labor, Giga Bokeria's European Georgia).

The confrontation between these two parts of the opposition became quite heated. The opposition remaining in the boycott regime argues that much better conditions could have been achieved and thus, the signatory politicians rushed into it and made a mistake. The signatories of the Charles Michel document also argued that it was impossible to get a better version of the agreed document and that refusing to sign would create problems in relations with Western friends. For its part, the Georgian Dream considers the split in the opposition as its victory and tries to oppose the "constructive opposition" that signed the agreement document and the "destructive forces" remaining in the boycott regime, which is the National Movement. According to them, Saakashvili's plan and the tactics of the ‘National Movement’ failed.

The main dispute between the two factions is over the ‘amnesty law’. The draft law registered by the Georgian Dream envisages pardoning of persons, both protestors and police, charged for the ‘Gavrilov Night’ (June 19-21, 2019), as well as the pardoning of those who may be found guilty in the future.

Such an interpretation of the amnesty is unacceptable even to the opposition that signed the Charles Michel document. In their view, amnesty cannot be extended to offenders without the consent of the victims, and even more so to those who have given orders that are not identified today.

Lelo is going to demand the establishment of an investigation commission in the parliament to study the ‘Gavrilov Night’. Georgian Dream considers it absurd, the implementation of the Lelo initiative needs 50 votes and will only be considered if National Movement enters the parliament.

Now the main issue is how Nika Melia will leave prison. He considers it wrong to accept the amnesty and said that he is ready to be released from prison on bail paid by the European Union. However, the Georgian Dream will still receive its preferred version of the amnesty, with the reservation that if anyone does not want to receive the amnesty, they can refuse and remain in prison.

According to Western friends, Nika Melia should leave prison and the National Movement should enter the parliament to carry out the reforms outlined in the agreement document.

Nika Melia at the same time emphasizes the need to maintain the unity of the opposition, as there are local self-government elections ahead, which also had the function of a kind of referendum on early elections. According to the agreement, if the Georgian Dream fails to get 43% of the vote in the proportional part of the elections, early parliamentary elections will be called in 2022.

According to opposition parties, the Georgian Dream will not be able to collect this amount of votes. Mikheil Saakashvili, who is in Ukraine, demanded that he be allowed to return to Georgia before the self-government elections. According to him, in any case, he will definitely return to Georgia and help defeat Bidzina Ivanishvili's party.

However, it is clear that the ruling party does not think so and will do everything to succeed in the elections. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has already announced that GEL500 million will be allocated to finance self-government projects. It is clear that the government has a certain advantage over the opposition in self-government elections.

One of the main intrigues ahead of the upcoming local elections is who the Georgian Dream will nominate as a Tbilisi mayoral candidate. It seems that Kakhi Kaladze's candidacy will no longer be supported.

Some also expect that Kaladze will leave the Georgian Dream altogether and may find himself in Giorgi Gakharia's new party with his team. The opinion was expressed that the ruling party would nominate Archil Talakvadze, who resigned from the post of the Speaker of the Parliament, as the Tbilisi mayoral candidate.

Talakvadze's resignation was one of the surprises of the last week. It has been suggested that Talakvadze was ‘punished’ for signing the Charles Michel document because it included a clause in disagreement with some parties, including the need for 43% support.

The signing of the Charles Michel document aimed at reducing the extreme polarization in Georgian politics and restoring trust between the government and the opposition. However, the controversy is so great that it is difficult to assume a reduction in polarization, a mere controversy, taking place within the walls of Parliament. However, the opposition does not rule out protests outside the parliament.