‘The opposition in Georgia announced a boycott, as if we are watching the same film again’ – US State Department official
“To find out that the opposition in Georgia is boycotting the parliament again is like watching a film that has already been seen. We call on the Georgian opposition to start working in parliament,” a senior State Department official stated on November 18 at a press conference in Washington, where the results of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Georgia were summarized.
JAMnews has highlighted some of the key messages from the conference below:
The united opposition of Georgia has been holding street protests since October 31, the day of the parliamentary elections. All opposition forces called the elections rigged, gave up their seats in parliament and are demanding a new vote. The authorities insist that the elections were free.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent just one day in Tbilisi on November 17-18 as part of a visit to seven countries. He met with top leaders of Georgia and non-governmental organizations. Discussions with the leaders of the Georgian opposition were led by Deputy Secretary of State Philip Reeker.
- Elections in Georgia: observers, politicians advise opposition on next steps
- What does the Georgian opposition plan to do about the election results?
- “The water pressure was so strong you couldn’t cover your face with your hands” – protest dispersal in Tbilisi. Video
Several key messages from the press conference:
“The EU ambassador and I have been hosting a series of meetings with all the parties, but several of them with all the parties together to try and see if they can negotiate a solution to the impasse, because what we are encouraging is the opposition to fight this – fight for change within the parliament, don’t boycott again, because they have – their sort of reflex is to take it to the streets and boycott. And we’ve been encouraging them to fight for change within. You’ve been elected by your supporters to go into the parliament and make change.
“And that’s what our – the U.S. and the European Union ambassadors are trying to support: bringing them to the table not for us to find the solution, but for them to find the solution, work together, learn how to work together – because they’re going to have to work together in parliament – and tee up a program, a legislative agenda that includes meaningful electoral change, meaningful reform of the Central Election Commission administration.
”The ’90s were really a lost decade of lawlessness, so they’ve been working on their democracy for 20 years. The United States has been helping them, but they still are in the process of building independent institutions, and I think that’s what we saw with these elections. They are – they’ve had flawed elections pretty much for the last 30 years and we saw similar types of violations this election as well: vote buying, voter intimidation, the abuse of administrative resources in terms of bringing civil servants out to vote.
“The opposition does not recognize the October 31 elections and claims that the government falsified the elections, does not recognize their results and refuses parliamentary mandates. The government will not make concessions. The processes have moved to the street, and the tension is growing.”