The governing Georgian Dream Party has pulled out of an EU-brokered agreement between the government and the opposition.
Party chair Irakli Kobakhidze announced the decision at a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon along with other party leaders.
‘Today, 100 days after the signing of the document, it is clear that it has fulfilled its mission and reached its limits’, Kobakhidze said.
The agreement, signed on 19 April by Georgian Dream and most opposition parties, brought an end to a seven-month boycott by the opposition of parliament following disputed parliamentary elections. It included a number of judicial and electoral reforms and crucially, a promise by Georgian Dream to hold new parliamentary elections if they won less than 43% of votes in October’s local elections.
Announcing the decision to pull out, Kobakhidze said they would call new elections if they won less than 53% of the vote in the upcoming elections, but only if they saw a possibility of a coalition government ‘judging from the behaviour of the opposition’.
Kobakhidze said that this was an act of ‘goodwill’ by Georgian Dream.
Kobakhidze said the party had taken the decision as the largest opposition party, the United National Movement, had continued to refuse to sign the deal, though the party did end their boycott of parliament nonetheless.
‘The country has already moved to a new local self-government election regime. Holding self-government elections against the background of a political agreement not signed by the main opposition party is detrimental to the country's interests’, Kobakhidze said.
Rising tensions with the West
Since the deal was signed in April, the government has come under increasing pressure from the EU and US over their apparent failure to implement certain provisions.
While the agreement explicitly stipulates that judicial appointments should be paused until reforms are carried out, the government has gone ahead with controversial lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.
On 23 June, The US Embassy to Georgia went as far as highlighting in yellow sections of the agreement, suggesting that Georgian Dream was not meeting its commitments to making ‘inclusive’ judicial reforms.
On APR 19 GD & opposition parties agreed ”ongoing appointments shall be paused” and committed to comprehensive & inclusive judicial reform & new legislation on Supreme Court nominations.https://t.co/qm1UyFaRwG pic.twitter.com/BETz5judMG
— U.S. Embassy Tbilisi (@usingeo) June 23, 2021
In his statement on Tuesday, Kobakhidze hit back at Western critics. ‘Although more than half of the opposition MPs have not yet signed the agreement, we see that our international partners do not consider it necessary to urge the radical opposition to sign the document and participate in its implementation’, he said.
He also insisted that judicial and electoral reforms would go ahead without any political agreement.
Khatuna Samnidze, chair of the Republican Party, said that Georgian Dream's statement was a rejection of Europe and the United States.