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Major Georgian opposition groups sign President Zourabichvili’s charter

4 June 2024
Image on the left: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media. Images on the right by Zourabichvili’s office.

Several major opposition groups have signed President Salome Zourabichvili’s ‘Georgian Charter’ — an agreement to support an interim government chosen by the president to push through EU reforms after October’s parliamentary elections.

On Monday, 17 opposition groups signed the Georgian Charter at the president’s residence, the Orbeliani Palace.

The Charter was also signed by five independent lawmakers.

The Charter, unveiled by Zourabichvili on 26 May as Georgia celebrated Independence Day, entails establishing an interim government should the opposition succeed in ousting the ruling Georgian Dream from power in October’s parliamentary elections.

The government would be composed of ‘professionals’ and the opposition would rescind a raft of legislation adopted by Georgian Dream that critics deem detrimental to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The Charter provided a non-exhaustive list of legislation, including the foreign agent law and recent amendments to the tax code that would exempt offshore assets being brought to Georgia from taxes.

The Charter also requires the temporary government to implement institutional reforms, focusing on the separation of powers and strengthening democratic checks and balances. According to the plan, the temporary government would be expected to facilitate free and fair parliamentary elections the following year.

On Monday, the charter was signed by the United National Movement (UNM), Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Lelo, Girchi — More Freedom, Ahali, European Georgia, Citizens, Droa, the Republican Party, For the People, and others.


Hours after the ceremony, Zourabichvili reiterated that she would be ‘strict’ in overseeing that the terms of the document were respected in the event they win in the October elections. 

[Read more about Zourabichvili’s plans here: President Zourabichvili outlines plan for temporary government following elections]

Absent from the signing ceremony were the opposition Girchi — New Political Centre and the For Georgia parties.

Girchi stated it disapproved of most of the plan’s provisions. The party, which holds four seats in parliament, saw its founder and the face of the party, Zurab Girchi Japaridze, leave to form a new Girchi party in late 2020. Earlier this year, the party struck a deal with the ruling party to abolish gender quotas in parliament.

For Georgia, led by former Georgian Dream prime minister Giorgi Gakharia, criticised the charter’s focus on installing a provisional government, though they recommitted to supporting institutional reforms in a statement on Monday.

While signatories of the charter have agreed to support a government nominated by the president, it does not entail signing up to joint electoral lists.

There have been some expectations among observers for smaller parties to band together before the election to ensure they pass the 5% threshold to enter parliament.

As opposition leaders signed the Charter on Monday, Georgia’s former president and honourary chair of the UNM, Mikheil Saakashvili, urged his party to surrender half of its electoral lists to other opposition groups.

‘Restoring the European path’

After hosting opposition leaders in the Orbeliani Palace on Monday, Georgia’s president went on to criticise the ‘Russian law’ as well as other steps taken by Georgian Dream, including the offshore assets tax relief bill, which she described as an ‘entirely non-transparent bill that opens the country to various capital unknown to anybody’. 

Zourabichvili also reprimanded the ruling party for promoting Chinese investments in the Anaklia deep-sea port project, which she called a ‘stab [in the back]’ to Georgia’s Western partners.

She said that in her bid to unite the political spectrum around the Georgian Charter since February, she had also reached out to the ruling Georgian Dream party and their founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili. Zurabishvili claimed she received no response from him. 

She also said she had reached out to party chair Irakli Gharibashvili, who served as prime minister until late January. 

She said Gharibashvili had been playing a role ‘as if he was against the Russian law and is in this role before the foreigners, like “I’m a bit different from others” ’.

‘I’m not sure if this has anything to do with sanctions or not’, she said, adding ‘I did not hear back from him either’. 

Zourabishvili on the background of Georgian Dream leaders in May. Image: President’s office.

Zourabichvili stated that the Georgian Charter’s purpose was to put Georgia back on a pro-European path and save the country’s chances of opening EU accession negotiations, despite, as she noted, the current government’s poor performance in adhering to ‘at least a portion’ of the EU’s ‘nine priorities’ for reform. 

The president argued that soon after securing the membership candidacy last year, the government had doubled down on its anti-western rhetoric and enacted controversial legislation ‘contradicting’ the country’s EU membership aspirations. 

‘You can call it collaborationism or anything, up to you, but this is the other direction’, Zourabichvili said, adding that reactions from Russia had been amicable to the government’s U-turn. 

Several hours before Zourabichvili’s speech, Artem Turov, deputy chair of the Russian State Duma Committee on CIS issues, was the latest Russian official to compliment Georgian Dream. Turov hailed the Georgian government for taking ‘an important step to strengthen its sovereignty’ by enacting the foreign agent bill despite the criticism from the EU and the USA.

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