The messenger logo

Dialogue versus polyphony

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, April 2
The nearer we get to April 9 the more urgent becomes the need to conduct a dialogue. Different modes of, and subjects for, dialogue have been suggested but the number of ideas being presented far exceeds anyone’s capacity to implement them. Georgia is famous for its polyphonic songs, in which different voices combine to create magical harmonies. However it is doubtful that the multiplicity of demands to discuss different subjects will create a harmony.

Currently an array of administration representatives are offering their vision of ways to conduct dialogue with the opposition. Three main subjects of discussion are suggested, the economic crisis, issues of national security and political reforms, this last being the most acute issue at the moment and it involves addressing sub topics such as constitutional reform and radical amendment of the election system.

The opposition has reacted differently to these suggestions. The Parliamentary opposition has expressed its readiness to discuss these issues at the negotiation table. The non-Parliamentary opposition however will not discuss any of these topics with the authorities, being willing to discuss only one issue, the resignation of President Saakashvili. All it is prepared to discuss is the details and when and how this will happen.

Of course discussing Saakashvili’s resignation is absolutely unacceptable for the ruling party. Chairman of Parliament Davit Bakradze, who is paying a visit to Europe, has said that opposition parties which demand Saakashvili’s resignation and have announced protest rallies starting on April 9 have driven themselves into a corner by demanding that they must get what they want on that specific date. He added that he hoped these parties would become more constructive after April 9, a hint that he expects that no opposition demands will be fulfilled at all. The non-Parliamentary opposition however is sure that it will force Saakashvili to resign. This opposition thinks that the protest action will be massive and continual and will therefore inevitably result in the President’s resignation. There are many dangers in taking this position, but the opposition parties feel that what they can gain is worth any problems it might cause for themselves and the country.

The non-Parliamentary opposition explains that its radical position is appropriate because the administration has never fulfilled its promises. Instead of constructively implementing democratic decisions it has continually introduced sneaky amendments which twist any situation to its benefit. According to the opposition the authorities cannot be trusted as they lie, cheat and suggest dialogue just to gain time. So far only one of the non-Parliamentary opposition leaders, Irakli Alasania of the Alliance for Georgia, has said he is willing to enter into dialogue with the Government, but the Government has not responded to this despite the fact it is calling for dialogue itself, which tells its own story.

The ruling party is trying to weather the storm. Representative of the Parliamentary opposition Gia Tsagareishvili has suggested holding a referendum asking people if they want the President’s resignation and snap elections, but this suggestion has predictably been rejected by the ruling party, just as it rejected the same idea when the Alliance for Georgia came up with it. The ruling party says a referendum would be an unjustified expense at a time of economic crisis. The Parliamentary opposition Christian Democrats, at a meeting of Diplomatic Corps representatives, outlined the threats posed by the April 9 protest actions and suggested a way of resolve the present crisis (See the March 31 issue of The Messenger) but the authorities are still ignoring every suggestion that does not come from themselves, even if it is the same suggestion simply coming out of another mouth.

So the stake on the table is the welfare of Georgia. The bid is April 9. It is for the leaders of both sides to decide, before it is too late, what to do.