Burjanadze, Akhvlediani comment on emerging Georgian Dream
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, February 17
Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement United Georgia, has expressed her hopes that not everyone is influenced by money in Georgian politics. Denying accusations of insurmountable ideological differences with Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream movement, Burjanadze nevertheless said that the billionaire is under the influence of the Republican Party.
Ivanishvili has refused to cooperate with Burjanadze’s party because of “ideological differences.” But as Burjanadze noted, the parties uniting under the umbrella of Georgian Dream have few such differences. She believes that Ivanishvili has a real chance to unite the opposition against the government but he needs to put ideology on the back-burner to do it.
Giorgi Akhvlediani of the Christian-Democratic Movement doubts that it was Ivanishvili who courted the Republican Party. He affirmed that although Georgian society dislikes the liberal political platform of the Republicans, the party still hopes to be the major player in Ivanishvili’s team.
Akhvlediani also made clear his disapproval of “financial censorship” in politics. “The poor can’t be banned from joining politics,” he said, referring to a statement made by lawyer and member of the Georgian Dream initiative group, Archil Kbilashvili, who said that he would risk everything he has - his family, job, and friends, as proof of his commitment to politics. Some interpreted this as a statement about the need for large amounts of money in politics, including Akhvlediani, who doubts the success of Ivanishvili’s team with the Georgian public, if this is what they promote.
He also expressed his distrust for those members of Ivanishvili’s team who served in former President Eduard Shevardnadze’s government. Saying the group has a lot to prove, Akhvlediani believes that time will tell whether they will enact the politics they espouse, or simply "play the game".
Referring to a recent proposal from the NGO New Generation–New Initiative, which suggested holding the upcoming parliamentary elections this spring, Akhvlediani explained that the only political party that would benefit from such a change would be the ruling United National Movement (UNM), as the opposition needs more time to prepare.
He also doubted the accuracy of polls that show either the UNM or Georgian Dream in the lead, and suggested instead that surveys be conducted by a neutral organization. “UNM and Ivanishvili finance organizations thus they are less trusted,” he said, expressing support for American political polling organization the International Republican Institute which, according to Akhvlediani, is truly interested in the facts.
Akhvlediani also focused on the plight of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and the agricultural sector. He worried that nothing has been done by the government to give real relief to people facing social pressure. Raising awareness of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons, Akhvlediani accused Minister Koba Subeliani of a “terrible crime” against IDPs, and added that people in regions also face the danger of losing their homes and lands as they are unable to repay loans to banks they needed for producing American corn.