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Bakradze reiterates calls for dialogue

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, June 16
It’s time to move from stone throwing to dialogue, Georgian Parliament Speaker David Bakradze stated yesterday. Speaking at the Parliament Bureau Session, the Speaker said blocking off state institutions is “unacceptable”. “All political leaders should realise that the only way which will bring positive results for everyone is a dialogue based on mutual respect,” the Parliament Chair noted. “I hope that the next sessions of Parliament will not be disturbed, because there is a difference between the democratic and the criminal,” Bakradze added, referring to the incident on June 12 when the young opposition activists threw eggs at the Parliament building and insulted some MPs.

The Parliament Speaker thanked foreign diplomats for their “obvious” and “distinct” statements about the incident. “It is a very rare for foreign diplomats to give such a clear reaction to the internal processes in a country. This indicates how indignant not only part of Georgian society but also the international community were at what happened,” Bakradze told MPs. He also commented on the US Embassy’s statement about the incident. “It was a clear signal that the events which took place on Friday breached the boundaries of democracy and expression of opinion and were criminal acts,” the Chair of Parliament stated. He praised Georgian MPs for the “honour” they had demonstrated on June 12 in “not responding to attack, insult and aggression.”

Some opposition politicians say Bakradze’s proposal of dialogue is “false”, while others say they expressed a readiness for dialogue long ago. Zurab Abashidze, from the Alliance for Georgia led by Irakli Alasania, who has announced he is setting up his own political party called Our Georgia-Free Democrats, said the Alliance supports neither throwing stones, nor beating up or detaining young people. “We have been talking about the necessity of dialogue for a long time, we have made our own proposals and we have asked the Government to discuss them with us, but unfortunately we don’t see any specific steps being taken,” Abashidze stated.

“Throwing eggs and stones is not the choice of the opposition, it is the Government’s choice,” Tina Khidasheli, one of the leaders of the Republican Party, said. “We have never rejected dialogue and civilized relations, but what we want is result-oriented dialogue. If the Government recognises the crisis we have in the country, then seeking a way out should also start, and this is the only way to resolve the current complicated situation,” Khidasheli noted, adding that if the Government wants to talk about the dialogue just to gain additional points in the eyes of the international community this attempt is “destined to failure.” Conservative Party co-leader Zviad Dzidziguri said Bakradze’s proposal was “spurious”. “They are not ready for dialogue,” he stated.

“The administration is blaming civil confrontation on the opposition, however we have taken no steps towards this,” former Parliament Speaker and the leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia Nino Burjanadze said, promising that “Saakashvili’s regime will end”. “It is bad to throw stones; at Friday’s demonstration no opposition leaders were present. If we had been there, we would have been able to control the situation and no throwing of stones would have happened. It is still to be established who started throwing stones and who started attacking the State Chancellery,” Burjanadze stated.

While the “radical” opposition says “there is no sense in dialogue” and promises to continue holding rallies, some political analysts say it is time for the opposition to change its tactics. Political commentator Soso Tsintsadze said the opposition’s old tactics of holding continual rallies have “run their course”. “It worked a month ago, but now it’s time to change something.” The analyst pointed out that the “radical” opposition should get ready for the next elections.

“Alasania has said his team is ready for dialogue and the National Forum is working in the regions, which means they are already conducting an election campaign,” Tsintsadze noted. However he did not say which elections the opposition should be preparing for. “No one knows when elections might be called, maybe we will have Parliamentary elections or local elections in 5-6 months. I think it will be a very important development if the opposition win the elections in Tbilisi and control the budget of the capital,” Tsintsadze told The Messenger.