Peter Semneby, EU’s special representative for South Caucasus, welcomed the first meeting between the opposition and the authorities as a positive development, which needs to be followed up.
“This is in fact what we have been advocating all the time since this confrontation started. The country needs to move away from political confrontation, from the polarized environment that we have and the political forces need to get together to have a serious discussion about rules of the game that concerns constitutional issues; it concerns election-related issues; it concerns media-related issues and so on,” Semneby told journalists in Tbilisi on May 9.
“Georgia can not continue to go through these cycles of outbursts in the streets,” he said. “Political discourse needs to be moved to negotiation format, to the Parliament, to the political institutions.”
“In order to do that also there has to be a broad sense that the rules for those institutions and those institutions themselves are legitimate, strong and that they are established in a way that is sustainable over long period of time and that is what Georgia needs to focus on at this time.”
First meeting between negotiators from the opposition and the authorities since the launch of street protests a month ago, ended without result late on May 8 with the agenda of the meeting becoming a sticking point.
The opposition negotiators, as they had announced it prior to the meeting, were pushing for discussing format of possible talks between the opposition leaders and President Saakashvili; while the representatives of the authorities, led by Davit Bakradze, the parliamentary speaker, declined to discus the issue and instead offered to directly offered moving immediately to issue-based discussion of the authorities’ agenda of reforms.