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Georgia's Ruling Party Tears Up EU-Brokered Deal With Opposition

Georgian Dream party leader Irakli Kobakhidze
Georgian Dream party leader Irakli Kobakhidze

Georgia’s ruling party has annulled an EU-brokered deal with the opposition after three months, putting the Caucasus nation on a path to deeper political crisis.

The leader of the Georgian Dream party, Irakli Kobakhidze, on July 28 blamed the opposition for the agreement’s failure, saying more than half of opposition lawmakers had still not joined the deal.

Georgia was plunged into political paralysis after Georgian Dream won the parliamentary elections in October 2020, in a vote the opposition said was unfair and fraudulent. A group of opposition parties then boycotted parliament and staged protests demanding new elections.

The European Union, backed by the United States, has played a mediating role in trying to resolve a series of crises in the small country with ambitions of strengthening ties with the West.

European Council President Charles Michel in April brokered a compromise agreement between opposition groups and Georgian Dream that paved the way for several opposition parties to enter parliament.

Kobakhidze said that while smaller opposition parties signed the agreement, the larger “radical opposition” blocs, including the main opposition United National Movement (ENM), refused to join the deal even though they entered parliament.

Under the EU-brokered deal, early parliamentary elections are to be called in 2022 if Georgian Dream gets less than 43 percent in local elections in October. It also sets the rules for power sharing in parliament, outlines reforms to the judicial system, and suggests reforms to the Central Election Commission.

Kobakhidze said the main points of the deal had already been implemented, including the end of the opposition boycott and the release of jailed opposition politician Nika Melia of the ENM.

In response to Kobakhidze’s announcement, several opposition lawmakers suggested they would leave parliament and boycott local elections.