Irakli Garibashvili meeting with Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. (Facebook/Government of Georgia.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s prime minister on Tuesday rejected the two main demands put forth by the opposition, thus prolonging the country’s four and a half months long political crisis.

“The next parliamentary elections will be held in 2024,” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said at a meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council in Brussels.

Based on what the international observers found, he added, it is clear the parliamentary elections on October 31, 2020 were free and fair, and therefore early elections – the  main demand of the opposition – is not on the agenda.

Equally categorical was his comment on the opposition’s second main demand, the release of UNM leader Nika Melia.

“If anyone has committed a crime, he should be punished. Therefore, it is not up to me to decide when or how the court will release someone from prison. This is the rule of law, a court decision to release or not release someone,” Irakli Garibashvili said.

Recently the EU stepped up its efforts to resolve the Georgian crisis. Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel, has been dispatched to Tbilisi in order to mediate in the tense political standoff.