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America and Europe set to dismiss Saakashvili?22.11.2010 | 12:24
Usually self-reliant opposition leaders of Georgia decide to change the strategy. Now they seek support abroad setting great hopes on the West. Irakli Alasania is discussing problems of the republic with Obama advisors, and Nino Burdzhanadze has returned from her trip to Europe where she had a number of important meetings also with country leaders. What do these opposition trips mean to Mikheil Saakashvili?
Loud statements on planned overthrow of the country's president and various pickets near the parliament building failed to bring opponents of the current political regime to the sacred goal. The opposition underestimated its own capacities and, most importantly, the dominant elite's resource. Moreover, it has failed to get united against the leaders and give people an idea of a decent alternative to Saakashvili's team.
This autumn the opposition decided to change the tactics. Firstly, the idea of cooperation over the Election Code was forced through. Secondly, the opposition realized necessity to ask the West for help in planning an overthrow.
Upon return from the European tour Nino Burdzhanadze, Democratic Movement - United Georgia leader told about "a number of important meetings" including a meeting with president of one of the Western countries. Former speaker of Georgian parliament did not mention names highlighting that she is doing "a big political job" unlike the government that contemplates black PR against the opposition. Besides, Burdzhanadze promised to take nearly 13 thousand people dissatisfied with Saakashvili's policies onto the streets on November 25. "If the congress of the people's council decides that Saakashvili should be dethroned with the help of acute actions, I will stand by the people and I won't betray them", - she added.
Irakli Alasania, another leader of the opposition front of the country in charge of Our Georgia - Free Democrats movement is on an official visit to the USA. He has already met with US president's advisors for Russia and Europe Michael Mcfall and Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, to present a general situation in the republic. Unlike Burdzhanadze, Alasania was more verbose summing up the results of the meetings he had. He stated that the White House is keeping a keen eye on democratic processes going on in the country and the situation around Abkhazia and South Ossetia. His interlocutors were mostly interested in Georgia's electoral environment that has aroused a number of questions of late.
Still, Georgian government either pretends that nothing happens or mistrusts its own powers. At least, there has been no spiteful statement on the opposition's trips so far. It is not impossible, however, that this is a cunning plan: why call attention of citizens to Alasania's and Burdzhanadze's consultations thus raising their rating? It is much easier to report from all central channels about Georgia being invited to the EU, as Jose Manuel Barroso allegedly said. It does not matter that the Portuguese official did not say that - there has been a refutation from Brussels. Now it is more important to control public opinion from the inside.
Back to Alasania and Burdzhanadze. It is not quite clear what dividends the oppositionists will get from their tours. On one hand, the West reiterates interest in Sakartvelo's democratization. Thus support of prominent political figures of Georgia is really possible. On the other hand, the expert community thinks that Europe finds the current regime in the republic more suitable than Saakashvili's adversaries.
As Giya Nodia, director of Caucasian Institute for Peace and Democracy told GeorgiaTimes, the opposition will definitely fail to have Western support in order to dethrone Saakashvili in a radical way:
- Yes, probably in the aftermath of the August war Europe and the States could have expected that Saakashvili would not stand. Now, however, the current president has serious support and the situation in the country has grown stable. No one in the West wants a revolution in Georgia.
Nodia also thinks that the international community wants to have a more democratic regime in Georgia encouraging reinforcement of the opposition as a political institution. But today's opposition are at loggerheads with each other, not with the government, over the title of the leading opposition force. "Burdzhanadze and Alasania seek Western support in their confrontation against each other, and their visits are mostly image-oriented, - Giya Nodia says. - All the more so that after Burdzhanadze's visits to Moscow she is perceived as a pro-Russian politician, which is not accepted too well in Georgia. Probably she is trying to show that she is good for the West too".
Valery Khomyakov, National Strategy Council director general is certain that Georgian opposition can be supported since Saakashvili regime is not OK to everyone in the West. "There has long been a sense of weariness over this exalted politician", - the expert emphasizes. - To me visits of Georgian opposition figures are a kind of bride-show". According to Khomyakov, Europe and the States start looking narrowly at people who will represent Georgian leadership after Saakashvili steps down, so the opposition's trips to Europe can be connected with their rise to power.