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Georgia: opposition calls on authorities to keep their word&# 160;
MEPs and US Senators expect Tbilisi to take next steps to pave the way for reforms&# 160;
The Georgian opposition demands that the authorities fulfill all agreements reached as a result of bilateral negotiations. Opponents of the Georgian leadership say that only after that will they vote in parliament for the adoption of constitutional amendments ensuring electoral reform. In particular, according to the planned amendments, during the parliamentary elections in October, 120 deputies will be elected by proportional lists, 30 – by majority..
“This will significantly move the country forward towards a proportional and fair electoral system. Completion of this process is in the interests of the country as a whole, as well as of all its citizens, and not of any particular party, ”the opposition says.
For about two weeks now, the opposition and the government have been arguing about the essence of the agreements reached following several rounds of negotiations initiated by the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia. The purpose of those meetings was to resolve the crisis that had arisen by that time in the country caused by the refusal of the authorities to carry out the promised reform of the electoral system..
According to the opposition, the March 8 agreement, among other things, meant the release of three persons, whose arrest, according to the opposition, was politically motivated. The authorities denied this, insisting on the inadmissibility of interference in the independent decisions of the Georgian court..
The following statements in support of the opposition from Georgia’s western partners, including the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, James Risch, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili pardoned two opposition politicians in order, as she put it, “to prevent an acute political crisis in the country. “.
“I cannot allow the country to perish because of these two criminals … The responsibility for maintaining political stability lies with me,” Zurabishvili said..
At the same time, the third prisoner, one of the owners of the opposition television channel Mtavari Archi, Giorgi Rurua, remained in pre-trial detention. Opposition says it will not start discussing constitutional amendments without his release.
Western partners of Georgia welcomed the decision of the President of Georgia, but made it clear that they expect the authorities to fulfill all their obligations:
“In the coming weeks, after the parliament returns to work, we expect the promised changes in the electoral system. We also look forward to the release of Giorgi Rurua, a media owner who was arrested in December on suspicious charges, ”the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a May 15 statement..
A similar statement was made on May 19 by the head of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, David McAllister, as well as several other MEPs..
It is noteworthy that according to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Rurua was detained for illegal acquisition, possession and carrying of firearms. At the same time, the opposition claims that illegal weapons were “planted” on him during a search, and that Rurua has the right to carry and store other weapons..
The legitimate right of the president
The President of Georgia can pardon Giorgi Rurua only after the court makes a decision on his case. In turn, the ruling Georgian Dream party, despite the opposition’s accusations, denies its involvement in the acts of pardoning the president. Authorities claim that Salome Zurabishvili is an independent politician and that her decision to pardon two opposition figures was not party-approved.
“I well understand the irritation of our ordinary citizens in connection with the pardon of the privileged caste of politicians who have committed such grave, concrete criminal offenses. Although pardon is an absolutely legitimate right of the president, ”Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on May 19.
Gia Nodia, chairman of the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, considers the release of two politicians from prison as a “very important victory for the country” as a result of pressure – on the one hand, by the opposition, and on the other, by the international community. According to him, this confirms that the Georgian leadership nevertheless takes into account the opinions of partners and opponents, which ensures that Georgia is “in the orbit of the civilized world.” At the same time, the expert speaks of the importance of the agreement being fully implemented and the release of the third person involved in this story – Georgy Rurua.
At the same time, the political scientist notes that Georgia’s sovereignty is based on its independent choice of a pro-Western foreign policy course. Moreover, as Nodia recalls, Georgia made its choice back in the 19th century, and reaffirmed it in the era of the first democratic republic in 1918-1921: “This choice is sovereign, since no one imposed it on us. Moreover, geography does not contribute to our engaging in single combat with Russia, but we ourselves decided that “.
Nodia believes that Georgia’s desire to be recognized as part of the West provides Western countries with certain levers of pressure on the country..
“We spent a lot of time convincing the West that we are a European nation. So far we have not finally convinced them of this, but the circle of people who believe that Georgia is part of the European world has expanded. And those who ultimately believed in it set high standards before us … Of course, there is an alternative – to be Eurasianists, lost in a Russian swamp. In this case, everyone can be imprisoned at their own discretion. International organizations will still criticize, but you will already ignore it, and American senators and European parliamentarians will give up on you and will not pay special attention. It’s all about the choice “, – summed up Nodia.
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