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President hails opposition participation in National Security Council

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, October 13
The Georgian Government and opposition discussed the strategy concerning Georgia’s occupied territories at an extended session of the National Security Council on October 12. Despite President Saakashvili’s invitation, the session was largely ignored by non-Parliamentary opposition members. The only such representatives attending were Sandro Bregadze from the Freedom Party and Akaki Asatiani from the Traditionalists Party.

In his opening remarks before the session was closed to the media President Saakashvili again appealed to non-Parliamentary opposition members. “We do not have any secrets from you at this session,” he said. The President hailed the opposition politicians for not revealing the “sensitive issues” discussed at the previous extended session last August. “I want to stress that at the previous session we talked about many sensitive issues concerning Georgia’s state interests. We, the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, the Parliament Speaker said after that session, that of the confidential information shared with you then, and I want to stress this, not one piece was leaked to the media,” Saakashvili said.

The President said that despite a lot of criticism of each other the Government and opposition had managed to agree on fundamental issues. “There are people who think that not listening to each other and trying to push only their own position is the way to succeed. I want to say that every time the Government has tried to do things this way it has always lost. Radical slogans and shooting at each other have brought nothing good for us. Our people have shown that no matter how radical we are nobody will allow violence. That’s why the order of the Georgian public to their Government was to show flexibility, make compromises and listen to even the most radical opponents of ours,” Saakashvili told the opposition members at the session. After these remarks were broadcast live, the session was closed to the media, but it is known that a report by Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria on the UN General Assembly Session and an address by Reintegration Minister Temur Iakobashvili followed the President’s remarks, as on the agenda.

Earlier on Monday Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition members and members of the Government had been busy making comments on the upcoming session. Some of the “radical” opposition parties cited the non-fulfillment of the commitments taken by the Georgian authorities as a reason for not participating. Conservative Party leaders called the session a “political masquerade.” ““Mikheil Saakashvili has started a political flirt to create a democratic image,” the Chairman of the Conservative Party Zviad Dzidziguri said at a special press conference. “Saakashvili has no resources left to resolve the conflicts and the only thing he can do in this direction, is resign,” Dzidziguri added.

The Movement for Fair Georgia, chaired by former Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli, has also refused to take part in the National Security Council. The Party has said the Government is conducting a “PR campaign” and “imitating democracy”. One of the leaders of the party, Petre Mamradze, has called on the Government to take more “effective and urgent” steps to ensure Georgia’s regional and national security.

The Alliance for Georgia, which participated in the National Security Council Session in August, said that it “considered it not appropriate” to attend this session. Its leader Irakli Alasania said that the reason for this was that the issues raised by the opposition during the last session had not been addressed as yet. “Despite some specific positive results, most of the cases of groundless, politically motivated detention are still unresolved. The situation in the mass media has worsened, and the work of the election group has been suspended for unknown reasons,” Alasania stated on Monday, adding that the Alliance for Georgia is ready to cooperate with the Government on important issues for Georgia, however only if this is followed by “concrete results.”

Ministers have said that in order to work out an effective strategy for Georgia’s occupied territories wider participation by Georgian and foreign partners is needed. National Security Council Secretary Eka Tkeshelashvili has said that the Georgian Government is “intensively” working on the strategy for Georgia’s occupied territories. She said this policy will not be successful without Georgia’s “strategic partners” participating in the process of developing it. “The involvement of a wide range of actors from the internal political spectrum is very important. This is an issue which goes beyond political confrontation,” she said.

Parliament Speaker David Bakradze hailed the fact that “National Security Council sessions in an extended format have become regular events.” “The opposition is given a chance to participate in the decision making process on one of the country’s most important issues. This is a signal to those inside and outside the country that despite our different political views, the various forces can sit together and talk about the country’s fundamental interests.”