Thousands of Georgians were due to take part in a rally in front of the State Chancellery in Tbilisi today
Thousands of Georgians were due to take part in a rally in front of the State Chancellery in Tbilisi today to protest the recent arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia.
However, with less than two weeks to resolve the political stalemate between the government and the boycotting opposition before the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting in Brussels in mid-March, the opposition has decided to scale back its rallies and is now planning to march from the centre of Tbilisi to the prison where Melia is being held. Melia’s arrest has aggravated tensions against the background of a growing political crisis in the country since the October parliamentary election, with the opposition demanding a rerun of the election.
European Council President Charles Michel has called upon all stakeholders to de-escalate hostilities and resume negotiations. Though Georgia remains committed to the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, further assessment of the country’s political situation is likely to take place during the Council meeting. Long-term effects of the deepening political crisis could also undermine the substantial investment the EU has made towards furthering stability and democracy in the region, ultimately hurting Georgia’s candidacy for EU membership in 2024.