“Radical” opposition refuses to speak to Government
By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, April 3The non-Parliamentary “radical” opposition refused to attend a meeting with Minister of Penitentiary and Probation Dimitri Shashkin on Thursday, a week ahead of the protest rallies planned for April 9. Only three opposition parties, from the Parliamentary minority, turned up at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel to talk to Minister Shashkin and MP from the ruling party Pavle Kublashvili.
The meeting took place two days after the Georgian Government proposed to start dialogue with the opposition on three “key issues” – the economy, state security and democratic reforms, and assigned Minister Shashkin to mediate negotiations between the Government and the opposition.
The talks between the representatives of the authorities and the Christian Democratic Party, We Ourselves and the National Democratic Party lasted for about 2 hours and were closed to the media. After the meeting the Minister for Penitentiary and Probation said the sides had agreed to set up a Coordination Council in order to work out specific proposals to create a State Commission, which will work on constitutional reforms. After the meeting the Minister called on the non-Parliamentary opposition for dialogue once more and said that “the Government is ready to talk to the leaders of those opposition parties who did not come to the meeting.”
Most of the non-Parliamentary opposition has said that the proposal about a dialogue was “too late.” Some of the “radical” opposition activists said that dialogue could be held on only one issue – the resignation of President Saakashvili. On April 1 eight political parties organizing the April 9 demonstrations issued a joint statement, saying the Government’s proposal of dialogue was “inadequate” and an “imitation of a dialogue.” The authors of the statement claim, “the proposal is yet another attempt to mislead society and the international community and divert attention from the real problems through the imitation of a dialogue.”
“In the current situation the only topic for dialogue is replacing the current authorities peacefully and through constitutional means, and we are ready to talk publicly about this issue with Mikheil Saakashvili personally,” the statement reads. “The results of the national plebiscite have again demonstrated the firm wish of Georgian citizens that early Presidential elections be held; society will respond to the authorities’ proposals on April 9,” the statement continues.
The Alliance for Georgia, composed of the Republican Party, the New Rights and the political team of Georgia’s former UN Ambassador Irakli Alasania, said on Thursday that Dimitri Shashkin is not the political figure “with whom we can talk about the grave situation in the country.” Zurab Abashidze from the Alliance for Georgia said the most important issues related to Georgia should not be discussed at the “coffee meeting” proposed by Minister Shashkin.
The next round of talks between the opposition and Government is planned for Monday.