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National Forum Clarifies Goals of Upcoming March

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 22
The National Forum has called for a large-scale, one-day protest march on September 27 to demonstrate that the Georgian people “will not tolerate anti-Georgian policies”. After a lot of speculation about this planned 'March of the Georgians,’ the party leader has made clearer statements regarding the issue and has also explained the reason why the day of the march will coincide with the day of the loss of Abkhazia.

The party leader, Gubaz Sanikidze stated that the date has been selected to coincide with, as he put it, “the day of the great Georgian catastrophe.” Sanikidze was referring to the event eighteen years ago when Abkhaz forces, backed by their allies from Russia, captured Sokhumi after almost two weeks of siege. In Abkhazia, September 27 is celebrated as “the day of the liberation of Sokhumi,” while in Tbilisi this day, known as “the fall of Sokhumi,” is usually marked with wreath laying ceremonies at the memorial of Georgian fallen soldiers.

According to Sanikidze, the National Forum's march on this day will be “a serious declaration of the Georgian people that we, as a nation, continue to exist, that we are the nation which marks its day of catastrophe, but at the same is oriented towards the future.”

As was made clear, the march is targeted at different goals. “The goal [of the march] is to demonstrate both within the country and to the outside world, that we will not tolerate the situation in which our homeland is now, to demonstrate that both Sokhumi and Tskhinvali will be in Georgia’s fold; to demonstrate that the Georgian people will not tolerate the government’s program of Georgia’s Singaporization,” Sanikidze said.

He also explained why the rest of the political grouping 'Opposition Six' member parties were not warned regarding the march. Sanikidze suggested that there was no need for such consultations in advance because it was not a formal coalition-type of union and the grouping was focusing on cooperation on electoral issues only.

As the leader of People’s Party, Koba Davitashvili, mentioned, the 'Opposition Six' has no definite position concerning the march. “I believe no disagreements will arise in the ‘political six' over this protest. I would like to say on my behalf that I will not take part.I do not wish to estimate how many will.”

Nestan Kirtadze, representative of the Labour Party, which is not in the 'Opposition Six' has called the National Forum’s planned action a theoretical political project. "I cannot evaluate this project which is a theoretical one. It looks like someone wishes to see themselves in power and to show it to others. September 27 is the day when Sokhumi fell and would be better if Georgian political will were directed to political union," Kirtadze said.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili thinks that “it would be better if the march did not coincide with the day of Abkhazia’s fall.” The analyst believes that no anti-Abkhaz rhetoric is possible. Khukhashvili says that the National Forum seemed unsure of what they want, “either, you speak about unity and invite other political forces to participate in the march or you declare the march and only after this suggest participation, it is a bit unclear.”