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Opposition gives “acid test” for authorities13.08.2009 | 23:06
For the first time over the months of confrontation Tbilisi welcomed the meeting between opposition leaders and the authorities. The country's leadership was represented by the heads of power bodies the opposition accuses of repressions and violations of human rights. Two arrangements are made: from now on oppositionists and power officials are available for contacts 24/7. The power officials promised to consider the list of political prisoners the opposition had given. Does this mean the authorities and opposition have started a real dialogue and the new wave of protest, the opposition had planned for autumn, is suppressed without being started?
The political crisis in Georgia that started in April is slowly but steadily ending. At first it was summer heat that weakened the opposition.
Eventually they announced a summer timeout promising to show the strength of discontent to the president and force him out this autumn which is traditionally the most politically active season (The Rose Revolution began in October 2003). However part of the opposition has already had a meeting with power officials arriving at some compromises. But not all opposition leaders went to a heart-to-heart talk with the power officials.
On behalf of the opposition there were: Irakli Alasania, Alliance for Georgia co-chairman and Our Georgia - Free Democrats leader with his teammate Zurab Abashidze and his colleagues - Republican party leader David Usupashvili and Pikria Chikradze of the New Rights; Industry to Save Georgia leader Zurab Tkemaladze, Freedom movement leader Konstantin Gamsakhurdia and Sandro Bregadze; Union of Traditionalists leader Akaki Asatiani and National Democrats leader Bachuki Kardava. The parliamentary minority was represented by Levan Vepkhadze from Christian Democratic Movement and Jondi Bagaturia of the Georgian set.
Among the attendees was Ombudsman Sozar Subari whose powers expire in September. Before the meeting began Subari stated that the political terror, now really alarming, should be stopped. The power officials were given a list of 48 political prisoners. "First we'll wait for the results and then we'll say whether the meeting with the Interior Minister had a positive or negative effect", - Civil.ge quotes the statement Subari made after the meeting.
Levan Gachechiladze who had had a tet-a-tet with president Mikheil Saakashvili in May categorically refused to take part in the meeting with the power department leaders. The meeting was criticized up front by Eka Beselia, Movement for United Georgia Secretary General (the party of Georgia's ex Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili). As GHN reports Beselia doesn't expect any specific results of the meeting and has absolutely no trust in it.
Manana Nachkebia, a New Rights leader (part of Alliance for Georgia) adopted the same position: "There will be Irakli Alasania, the alliance leader at the meeting but David Gamkrelidze chairing the New Rights won't take part in it. He is not trustful of the authorities, however I think we must give the authorities another chance", - Nachkebia told GHN.
Democratic movement - United Georgia party refused to dialogue as its leader Nino Burdzhanadze has no hopes for "wisdom of the authorities". The Labor party representatives said a categorical no. According to the party's political secretary Georgy Gugava the meeting with Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishbili is like a meeting between a criminal and his victim with the victim asking the criminal to investigate the crimes the latter committed.
However the oppositionists that took part in the meeting highly estimated the work that had been done. As Georgian media report, after the meeting Irakli Alasania stated "the meeting was constrictive, and the following week will be a test whether the authorities and opposition are ready to cooperate". Irakli Alasania also remarked that Vano Merabishvili was supposed to account for every suspicious case, this being "an acid test" for the authorities how ready they are take the path for democratization of the society. Georgian Republican Party leader David Usupashvili underlined the main thing was to dismantle the system that breeds political prisoners.
The opposition gives different evaluations of the meeting. As Georgian media report, Irakli Sesiashvili, an expert, made quite a controversial comment saying that the country's authorities had been given a chance to take the country out of the political crisis. However the politologist believes that the meeting of power ministers and representatives of the opposition will be of no effect.
"It's been quite a time since April. Unfortunately over this period I have seen no steps forward from the authorities. They didn't concede even a millimeter in this totalitarian rule they had been building for 5-6 years. That's why I don't expect any critical results of the meeting. But the authorities still have a chance to make these steps.