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Opposition comment on opposition

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 7
The terms “so-called opposition" and “strange meeting format" were frequently used by former Parliament Speaker and leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia Nino Burjanadze whilst commenting on Hillary Clinton’s visit to Georgia and her meeting with representatives of only two oppositional parties, Our Georgia-Free Democrats and the Christian-Democratic Movement, on July 5.

“The opposition figures who do not create problems for the authorities were selected to attend this meeting. These so-called opposition say that we should wait for the 2012 Parliamentary elections and U.S. assistance will come to help improve the electoral system and voter lists... These opposition have either done a direct deal with the authorities or they totally lack experience,” Burjanadze said. "I am afraid this visit will change nothing of any consequence in our internal political situation. As Clinton had no opportunity to meet other opposition representatives, she left the country without hearing about the real democracy situation in Georgia,” Burjanadze said.

Leader of the National Forum Kakha Shartava was not quite as negative about the meeting as Burjanadze. "We were not offended at not being invited to the meeting, however we hope that those opposition leaders who met the Secretary of State informed her about the real situation in the country,” Shartava said. The People’s Party's briefing on Clinton’s visit focused on other issues. "Clinton’s visit was important for Georgia, but the problems remain as they were. Everyone, and particularly the Government, should understand that Georgians should look after Georgia and make the necessary steps towards democratic development. It’s important that she mentioned the word occupation, however saying the word alone will not make the Abkhaz and Ossetians agree to dialogue,” Political Secretary of the People’s Party Aleko Shalamberidze said.

The Labour Party congratulated Irakli Alasania and Giorgi Targamadze on getting an “international certificate”. "We regard Hillary Clinton’s visit to Georgia as important, however, the authorities have done their best to present to her an absolutely false picture. The Labour Party did however provide Clinton with information on the extremely unacceptable situation in the country through me, as I participated in the meeting between her and Georgian women leaders. The Government says that the meeting and Clinton's frequent mention of the term occupation will have a positive affected on the situation in the conflict regions, but we do not accept this, as real results are possible only after discussing this term in juridical terms and taking some real legal steps in this direction,” Nestan Kirtadze, one of the leaders of Labour Party, told The Messenger. "After the meeting Irakli Alasania said on a TV programme that in 2013 his party and the Christian Democrats will take power from the present Government and they have been promised this by Clinton. This is a sign that in 2013 the Georgian people will once more be prevented from making a choice. This was a wholly unacceptable statement. We congratulate Alasania and Targamadze on getting their “International Certificate” that they will eventually replace the present authorities,” Kirtadze said.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger, "this visit is important of course, however I have not seen any significant concrete messages for Georgia come out of it. For example, Clinton made similar statements about democracy in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, i.e. that some positive moves have been made but much is still to be done. The main message is that the US is still interested in the Caucasus. In my opinion inviting Alasania and Targamadze to speak to Clinton was very logical, as they participated in the elections and have a higher rating than the other leaders. The members of the National Council, which also took part in the local elections, should also have been invited, but it seems Zurab Noghaideli (former PM and leader of Movement for Fair Georgia)'s pro-Russian orientation prevented this. It can also be argued that the Government did its best not to let other opposition representatives meet Clinton. I do not think the authorities were happy with Alasania being there either, however, they had no argument for why he should not be. Targamadze completely satisfies all the criteria of the present Government,” Khukhashvili said.