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Georgia: is a “reset” possible between the regime and opposition?2009-03-30 16:35
The Georgian authorities and the unrelenting opposition have almost no time left to guarantee the safety of the protest action on 9th April. The chairman of the Council of Europe Monitoring Committee, Matthias Jorsch, reiterated this during his visit to Tbilisi. A series of Georgian experts have offered their services for the talks. But the opposition does not want anything to do with the Interior Minister. The regime has expressed its willingness to talk to its opponents about everything except the main thing: early elections.
The deputy speaker of parliament, Mikheil Machavariani addressed journalists on 27th March. "The situation in the country is difficult. We see the way out of this difficult situation by holding a dialogue on the most important questions affecting the country. I will tell you the priorities. They are the country's security; then the economic problems facing Georgia; the fight against unemployment; the economic crisis and all political issues. But we are not contemplating the possibility of holding early parliamentary and presidential elections. We have to think about solving these problems, instead of wasting money on elections," the Civil Georgia news agency quotes Machavariani.
Meanwhile, the opposition's main demand remains Saakashvili's resignation and the holding of early elections. Following the wave of compromising material on the opposition that has swept through the country and the arrests of members of the "Democratic movement - United Georgia" and "Movements to save Georgia" parties, the Georgian press has been writing that the authorities could perhaps make a compromise. The possibility of holding an early parliamentary election instead of a presidential one has been discussed. This idea emerged following the leader of the parliamentary minority Georgi Targamadze's appeal to start a dialogue over a shift from a presidential system of government to a parliamentary one.
And during his address to the Brooking Institute in Washington, the parliamentary speaker David Bakradze declared that this proposal could be an object of discussion with the opposition. Although, as Georgian TV stations reported, Bakradze thinks that at this stage such a change would be wrong. In turn, the opposition has frequently remarked that it has no intention of being satisfied with the holding of parliamentary elections.
The refusal of either the regime or the opposition to yield has led to an escalation of tension in the country. Both Europeans and Georgian experts are now willing to act as mediators between the opponents. The Europeans now just have to establish a group in support of Georgia's constitutional order, but there are already those who disagree with this plan. There is, primarily, disagreement over guaranteeing the safety of the participants in the April action. The opposition has said that it does not intend to cooperate with Vano Merabishvili's ministry.
At the moment, Georgian experts are attempting to smooth over the situation. Their statement of 26th March emphasized in particular: "The current situation requires great responsibility, both from the leadership and the opposition forces... we declare the following: for us, violence either as an instrument for retaining power or for coming to power is categorically unacceptable; the escalation of tension needs to be stopped; we are confirming our willingness, if the leadership and the opposition so wish, to make a modest contribution to this process, with the aim of actively cooperating with our Western partners and representatives of civil society; we are ready to consider the opinion of his Grace, Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II on this issue."