Government and Opposition 'Georgian Dreams' Differ
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 7
Dreams and reality were up for discussion at the Georgian parliament on December 6, concerned mainly with the announcement of a new 'dream town' called Lazika to be built on the Black Sea coast and the 'Georgian Dream' - a new opposition public movement.
There were also more usual issues to be debated. Certain opposition MPs demanded that constitutional changes about increasing the number of MPs from 150 to 190 be stopped. The smaller opposition parties represented in parliament are not ready for the increase and oppose it. Opposition MPs, Jondi Baghaturia and Dimitri Lortkipanidze, appealed to the parliamentary largest opposition group, the Christian Democrats, to stand against the increase as Georgian society is against such growth in the number of MPs. Lortkipanidze mentioned that United National Movement representatives are not active regarding the issue and that the president, Mikheil Saakashvili, permanently repeats that the increase in MPs "was an opposition demand and the government took this demand into consideration.”
It seems that the Christian Democrats are ready to oppose the growth in MPs, however they remind the other opposition parties that “there was a time when they wished for such growth,” and that both the government and the opposition behave “unscrupulously” regarding the issue. “The government tries to shift all the responsibility onto the opposition, as they know it is not a popular theme in society,” a member of the Christian Democrats, Levan Vephkvadze, said and mentioned that “now people from the opposition, who wished for such growth are criticizing us" however such changes might help enable smaller opposition groups "to find themselves in parliament as having 150 MPs is more in the government's interests that in the opposition's.“
In response, the Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze, stated that the “issue might be rechecked“, however this rechecking should be based on consensus. ”An agreement regarding the growth of MPs was the outcome of long term negotiations and consensus, if parties do not wish for such a change anymore, the decision should be rechecked, however it depends on parties' common will.”
The government does not see the necessity of rechecking the issue, ”as we agreed to the opposition demand based on consensus,” MP Goka Gabashvili said. Both in parliament and in society, many feel that a referendum should be held on the issue, as it was only through a referendum that the number of 150 MPs was decided in the first place.
After criticizing one another, opposition members came together to condemn the idea of new Georgian town, Lazika, mentioned by the president, which would be built in ten years and would be second biggest Georgian town with half of million citizens. Baghaturia negatively assessed the initiative and asked the question: “where is the government taking the country?” Majority MP Davit Darchiashvili fired back that the “government is taking the country into a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU”. Darchiashvili says that the EU declared that talks over the issue had started preceded by strategic and legislative planning.
“You are not interested in it, though it is a new prospect for tens of thousand of people”, Darchiashvili said adding that the opposition does not have such a dream as their dreams are simply surrogate ones which they like to call the “Georgian Dream”. This was a mocking reference to the public movement created by businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili who opposes the government. Darchiashvili said that the “Georgian Dream” is simple a repeat of the “Gazprom Dream” and the opposition wants a stake in it. “These dreams will not come true. Georgia will develop in terms of EU integration”, Darchiashvili said.
As for Lazika, architect Giga Batiashvili stated that in any civilized state the building of something serious is unimaginable without a state renewal project. According to the painter, Temur Gotsadze, the plan is absurd for several reasons: ”the building of town of 500,000 people needs at least half of century, at the same time, how do you build such a large scale town and how do you settle so many people in such a small area?,” he asked and suggested that the area is also unsuitable due to its climate characteristics.