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European Commissioner meets opposition

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 9
Stefan Fule, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, held a meeting with Georgian opposition leaders on April 8 at the Tbilisi Marriott at which they informed him about the situation in the country. The meeting was attended by Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, Zurab Noghaideli, leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia, leader of Defend Georgia Levan Gachechiladze, Chair of the The Way of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili and Viktor Dolidze from the Alliance for Georgia.

“It is very important for Europe that democracy develops in Georgia, which is less likely without these kinds of meetings,” Fule stated. More detailed comments were made by opposition leaders after the meeting. "It was a very serious meeting. We explained to the European Commissioner that there is no democracy in the country. The best confirmation of this was Vano Merabishvili’s interview with Kommersant, which European diplomats were surprised by as well. We gave the Commissioner the Georgian opposition's recommendations concerning changing the electoral environment, compiling the election lists and some other serious issues,” Zourabichvili said, adding that good relations with Europe are very important for the country’s future integration with Europe.

“A significant part of the meeting was dedicated to Merabishvili’s interview, and the present Government should give the public more explanations concerning this,” Viktor Dolidze said. Noghaideli did not exclude conducting a new revolution in the county if the Government tried to falsify the elections. "We will annihilate this Government if it dares election falsification. The Georgian people will not accept falsified elections and therefore new strikes and revolution cannot be excluded. We should destroy this Government to give Georgia a chance of development,” Noghaideli stated.

Burjanadze called the meeting very interesting and said that Fule promised that all the opposition's recommendations will be discussed. She told the Georgian media that the Interior Minister will have to answer for his interview. "I was not surprised by what he said, as in his 28 March interview with Kommersant he said that the reforms do not imply changes in the law as what he orders is done, whether or not the law has been changed. Until this last interview Merabishvili had avoided mentioning my name, and I thought this indicated his sensibility, but now he has started to. Just see how he talks about Europe and Ukraine while he and all others in the Government go on about their European values! Merabishvili should know that both taking and offering bribes are crimes and therefore Givi Targamadze should be in prison now (in the interview Merabishvili said that Targamadze had offered Russia money to bomb the Stalin Monument in Gori). I promise that sooner or later he will be imprisoned,” Burjanadze said.

Merabishvili’s interview was also one of the main discussion points at the Parliament session on April 8. "Merabishvili, who is one of the most influential political figures at present, should explain to us what he means by saying that he and his people are ready to break the law if they consider it right," Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian Democrats, said. Government representative Lasha Tordia responded by saying that "Phrases taken out of context and rearranged by a journalist should not be politicised and given such importance by Georgian politicians”. Majority leader Petre Tsiskarishvili said that Givi Targamadze and others had done their best during the war. "The only reason Targamadze or anyone else from the Government contacted the Russians during the war was to save every Georgian citizen's life and prevent danger as much as possible,” he said.

Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger, "It can be said that one of the leading figure in Georgian politics saying such things is unacceptable not only for Georgians but others as well, as it is quite unimaginable to offer money to your enemy to bomb something in your country. However, we cannot surprise Europe any longer, as it is continually shocked by us. The Georgian public and Georgian Government's perceptions of Europe are different: many in the Georgian Government like Europe's capitals more than its values, while the people respect Europe's values. When Georgian politicians frequently criticise European structures for making promises and doing nothing more, it is logical for Europe to ask Georgia - what do you want from us? What are you doing to become part of Europe? Give us a real answer on this, not just promises that we will do our best to integrate with European structures!” Tsiskarishvili said.