EU brokers deal to end political crisis in Georgia

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(Reuters) -European diplomats have helped broker an agreement to end a political crisis in the South Caucasus country of Georgia, European Council President Charles Michel said on Monday.

Georgia has been locked in a political crisis since the Georgian Dream ruling party won a parliamentary election last October in a vote the opposition said was marred by violations.

The February detention of opposition politician Nika Melia, chairman of the United National Movement (UNM), sparked street protests and led to the resignation of the country's prime minister, exacerbating the crisis.

The deal brokered by the EU called on its signatories to "conduct our duties until the next parliamentary elections with mutual respect and in recognition of the importance of unity in the interest of Georgia's stability."

It also included, among other things, judicial and electoral reforms and called on the country to initiate an amnesty law within one week of the signing for "all violations and convictions stemming from the 19-21 June 2019 protests."

This agreement could result in Melia being freed. The opposition politician was accused of inciting violence at the protests, a charge he has called politically motivated.

"This agreement is not the finish line," Michel told participants in a signing ceremony via video link from Brussels. "This agreement is the starting point - the starting point for your work in consolidating Georgia's democracy and your work in taking Georgia forward in its Euro-Atlantic future."

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Editing by Chris Reese, Will Dunham and Timothy Heritage)