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World

Georgia ruling party, opposition sign EU-led pact to end crisis

  • Michel said he would discuss with Georgian political leaders joint steps aimed at strengthening the ties between Brussels and the EU-aspirant nation in Europe's extreme southeast.
20 Apr 2021

TBILISI: Georgia's ruling party and the opposition on Monday signed an EU-mediated agreement to end a months-long political crisis that raised concerns in the West over the Caucasus country's backsliding on democracy.

Ending the opposition's parliamentary boycott and paving the way for sweeping electoral and judicial reforms, the anti-crisis agreement -- tabled the day before by European Council President Charles Michel -- was signed by representatives of all political parties.

Georgia's main opposition force, the United National Movement (UNM), will join the deal "after its (jailed leader Nika) Melia is released from prison as stipulated in the agreement," Salome Samadashvili, one of the party leaders who signed the pact in her personal capacity, told AFP.

Michel praised the deal as "a truly European way of resolving the crisis."

"This agreement is the starting point for your work towards consolidating Georgia's democracy and taking Georgia forward on its Euro-Atlantic future," he added.

He oversaw the televised signing ceremony held in Georgia's presidential palace by video link from Brussels and was set to visit the capital Tbilisi on Tuesday.

Michel said he would discuss with Georgian political leaders joint steps aimed at strengthening the ties between Brussels and the EU-aspirant nation in Europe's extreme southeast.

The ex-Soviet country has been gripped by a political crisis since October's parliamentary elections, which opposition parties denounced as rigged.

After the vote, opposition lawmakers refused to assume their seats in the new parliament and staged mass protests to demand snap polls.