Charles Michel calls parties to “step up their efforts” to end to Georgia’s political crisis

Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, has called for an end to the political crisis in Georgia during a press conference with the country’s president, Salome Zurabishvili. He referred to the crisis as “of great concern to the European Union”, asking all parties to “step up their efforts to de-escalate the situation and come together to find common ground”.

Opposition supporters marched in Tbilisi last week, protesting the arrest of the leader of the largest opposition party, the United National Movement’s Nika Melia. The authorities have charged Melia with instigating violence at protests in 2019; however, his supporters claim that the charges are politically motivated. Opposition politicians continue to boycott parliament and call for fresh elections, disputing the legitimacy of the parliamentary elections in October that were won by the Georgian Dream party.

During the press conference, Michel expressed an understanding of the difficulties that the crisis presents, but faith that the country was capable of finding a solution:

“I realise that political debate within a democratic framework requires leadership as well as courage on the part of all parties involved in the political debate. I am convinced that Georgia has the assets to overcome the current challenges and to consolidate the foundations of its democracy.” 

The President of the European Council also met with the new Georgian prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili (pictured), and stated his intention to speak with both the opposition leaders and the speaker of the Georgian parliament.

Michel is in Georgia this week as part of a trip which includes Moldova and Ukraine, to show the EU’s commitment to the states of its Eastern Partnership initiative. In his statement, Michel expressed the EU's support for Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity in respect of its separatist territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, referring to the bloc as being “firmly on [Georgia’s] side”. Whilst in Georgia, Michel visited the Administrative Boundary Line in the village of Khurvaleti in Georgia's Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia).

Tomorrow (2 March), the President of the European Council will visit Ukraine.

source: commonspace.eu with the press service of the president of the European Council
photo: Charles Michel greets the Georgian prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili; government of Georgia press office.

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