Opposition greets Biden with different tactic
By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, July 23The Georgian opposition have prepared a list of issues they will be discussing with US Vice President Joe Biden today. The first item they want to discuss is ways of resolving the internal political crisis.
Parliamentary minority Christian Democratic Movement representatives have assessed Biden’s visit as “extremely important, considering the threats Georgia is facing currently.” Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Christian Democratic Movement member Giorgi Akhvlediani said that “we will talk about the political crisis in Georgia which has been going on for three months already. We will talk about the inability of the Government to tackle the political tensions.” Akhvlediani said that “unfortunately” the Georgian Government is only taking into account the views of the international community and not of its own people. “The only levers of influence on the Georgian authorities are the instructions of the West and the US,” the MP told journalists. Akhvlediani expressed hope that Biden’s visit would reveal “specific plans in terms of security, which the US administration will voice through Vice President Biden.”
Georgia’s former UN ambassador and now leader of opposition party Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania, said he will talk to the US Vice President about all the demands the Alliance for Georgia has raised. “These are court reform, promoting democratic institutions and a free media and a peaceful change of Government,” Alasania said on July 22. “It will be important if a person with international authority is chosen to be a guarantor of the fulfilment of the political agreement between the opposition and the administration. We will have a chance to meet Vice President Biden personally and discuss regulating the internal political crisis,” Alasania noted.
The former Ambassador assessed Biden’s visit to Georgia as “very important”, saying that it indicates that the new US Administration supports Georgia and will not allow a repeat of Russia’s aggression. “Biden’s visit shows that the US does not recognise the ‘reality’ which Russia is trying to impose,” the leader of the Alliance of Georgia said. The Alliance for Georgia, composed of Alasania’s newly created party, the New Rights and the Republican Party, has refused to participate in the “welcome” rally on the day of Biden’s visit to Georgia. The National Forum, led by Kakha Shartava, has also refused.
Some of the non-Parliamentary opposition have chosen a different strategy for “reaching their voice” to the US Vice President. The Conservative Party, Way of Georgia, People’s Party, Democratic Movement-United Georgia, Movement for United Georgia and individual opposition politician Levan Gachechiladze participated in a rally late on July 22. The rally organisers said that the demonstration would show the readiness of the opposition “to carry on the fight”. “We express our position that we are fighting for democracy and a free court and media,” Eka Beselia from the Movement for United Georgia said. People’s Party Leader Koba Davitashvili said, “This is the time for unity and disallowing controversial statements. Let’s meet the guest together, let’s host him together and show him that the country belongs to the people and not the Government,” Davitashvili stated.
A demonstration was held on the road to Tbilisi International Airport on Wednesday as well. Relatives of what they regard as political prisoners gathered on the Kakheti highway with US flags and posters saying “Release Political Prisoners”. According to Zakaria Kutsnashvili, the organiser of the rally, they demanded US support for freeing their family members.
Political analysts say Joseph Biden’s visit should not cause a split in the opposition. “It is too early to think about divergence,” the President of the Experts Club, Soso Tsiskarishvili, told The Messenger. The analyst said it was a mistake by some opposition leaders to call on the population not to come to the demonstration on the day of Biden’s arrival. “Those who wanted to meet Biden face to face will meet him, but ordinary people should have been given a chance to express their opinion about the current Government at a joint rally.”
Tsiskarishvili said the decision of some leaders not to attend this rally was “improvident”. “The results of this will be obvious in Autumn, when the institutionalisation of the opposition protest charge is expected, and when the optimism of the Government will be much less, due to the deeper economic crisis in the country,” the analyst stated.