2021.02.25 10:09

Lithuanian parliament envoy under fire for ‘failed’ mediation mission in Georgia

LRT.lt2021.02.25 10:09

Lithuanian MP Žygimantas Pavilionis, the chair of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, has attracted criticism at home for siding with the opposition during his recent trip to Georgia.

Pavilionis made the trip to the country last weekend, purportedly to mediate in a political crisis caused by the detention of opposition leader Nika Melia.

Read more: Lithuanian parliament sends Foreign Committee chair to mediate in Georgia's political crisis

During his visit to Georgia on February 20, Pavilionis criticised Georgian authorities for their “aggressive, autocratic tone”.

Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili dismissed the comments. “We are a hospitable country, but insulting statements by such guests are completely unacceptable and mean nothing to me and my team,” he said.

Back in Lithuania, Pavilionis' performance was also criticised by Parliament Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen. “Even if he has a firm personal position, he should have been diplomatic during his trip to Georgia,” she told LRT RADIO on Wednesday.

Pavilionis was summoned to explain himself before the parliament's leadership.

On Thursday, a president's adviser said that Pavilionis' mediation trip was a failure.

“A politician went to a foreign country and sided with one political force,” Asta Skaisgirytė, a foreign affairs adviser to President Gitanas Nausėda, told LRT RADIO. “Unfortunately, he failed in his mediation mission.”

She also suggested that the parliament should consider whether Pavilionis can continue as the chair of Foreign Affairs Committee. “They [the parliament] must discuss the situation, must draw conclusions,” she said.

Georgian politics has been in turmoil since last October's parliamentary election.

Opposition parties denounced the polls as rigged after the Georgian Dream party claimed victory. Their members have refused to take up their seats in the new parliament and demanded a new poll, even though there is little evidence to suggest that the elections were illegitimate.

Melia, the chairman of the United National Movement of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, is accused of “organising mass violence” during 2019 anti-government demonstrations in Tbilisi. He rejects the case as politically motivated.

Last week, a court in Tbilisi ordered Melia be placed in pre-trial detention after he refused to pay an increased bail fee.

Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Gahkaria, of the ruling Georgian Dream party, resigned last Thursday because of disagreement in the government over enforcing Melia's detention.

On Tuesday, however, Georgian police stormed the United National Movement party offices and detained Melia.

News of the police action sparked outrage among the opposition.