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Opposition ready for dialogue20.06.2011 | 11:21
"G8" of Georgia's opposition parties does not abandon hope to agree on amendments to the election code with the government. This week it was reported that meetings between representatives of dominant National Movement and the opposition will have a format of individual consultations. What will the new form of dialogue yield: consensus or final failure of the opposition's initiative? GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed that with Manana Nachkebia, a leader of New Rights party included in the oppositional eight.
History of complicated talks between representatives of various opposition parties of Georgia and the ruling party dates back to November 2010 when 16 political associations expressed readiness to sit at negotiating table with National Movement deputies to modify the election code. The seemingly good initiative of the opposition wishing to hold fair elections in Georgia has not proved its value yet. The opposition proposed a number of radical measures to their opponents (like formation of parliament by a system of proportion and elections with biometrical passports) and was given "no" in reply.
No wonder - since the majority in Georgia's current parliament have enough votes to adopt any law draft that comes from "above". No one will jeopardize the president-parliament tandem so convenient to Saakashvili. But what's the sense in these talks then? To show formation and development of democracy in Mishiko's style to Washington? Anyway, today's pool of those who still hope to come to terms with the government comprises eight parties: New Rights, Georgia's Way, Christian-Democratic Movement, Our Georgia - Free Democrats, Conservative Party, Republican Party and People's Party. They continue to believe that the dialogue will be a success. However, it seems less and less believable each day.
Mamuka Katsitadze from New Rights has already stated that in lack of tangible results new stages of struggle are needed. "There are resources and chances for us to have a result, - he said. - If the resource is gone, we will have to say that the idea has failed". David Gamkrelidze, his party fellow, clearly stated that the new format of individual talks with Georgian government is selected to save the "eight".
However it should not be forgotten that some people in Georgia have lost faith in the idea of dialogue between the opposition and authorities openly criticizing their debates. According to Vazhi Beridze, a well-known Georgian politologist, the "eight" is focused on secondary issues, and there are much more important things to discuss. "Firstly, it's freedom of mass media and secondly - NGO's real attitude, thirdly - fair trial and fourthly - a free, competitive business environment", - he remarked.
Konstantin Porchkhidze from For Fair Georgia is even more skeptical. He says the oppositional "eight" is "still born" and has nothing to do with improvement of the electoral environment. Besides, Porchkhidze adds, discussions on a better electoral environment have not started yet in fact. "This is a process of presentations, - he says. - Both sides have simply outlined their position".
GeorgiaTimes correspondent asked Manana Nachkebia about real prospects of the "eight" and whether criticism against it is fair.
- What do you think about the new format of talks with the authorities?
- We believe the new format is a chance to bring talks with the authorities to a result. I refer to amendments to the election code the opposition needs at this stage. Firstly, it's compilation of lists that will guarantee one voter-one vote relation. We will not postpone resumption of talks, and I hope they will start very soon. We are ready for a dialogue, so I think it possible that we will have first results by the beginning of July.
- Will the authorities be more attentive to demands of the "eight" considering the last talks that failed?
- Certainly, it looks doubtful since the dominant party has never been willing to concede. But we must not lose heart. We must carry on the struggle. We will achieve something anyway. We have chances.
- This week mass media disseminated rumors that the "eight" is breaking up. How stable and future-proof is your union?
- If we manage to have the election code amended, that will mean we have achieved our goal, and the work of the "eight" will be completed. If we decide that the talks are fruitless - we will complete our work anyway. This is not a political union to run in parliamentary elections together. And as for the future - it's too early to discuss that.
- There is an opinion that the eight is focused on secondary issues instead of more serious problems. Do you agree with that?
- Our union seeks amendments in the election code. All other issues are beyond the competence of the eight. Though certain political forces included in the group of eight parties pursue these directions.