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Saakashvili meets Parliamentary majority

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, April 7
The Government’s offer to the radical opposition to start dialogue still stands, Georgian Parliament Speaker David Bakradze said after a meeting between the Parliamentary majority and President Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday. The Georgian media had suggested before the meeting, which took place at the Avlabari Presidential Residence, that the officials would make a further proposal to the opposition, however the Parliament Speaker said that the main issue of the meeting had been providing IDPs with living space and no new proposals were being made to the opposition.

“It is impossible to make new proposals every day,” Bakradze told journalists, although he added that there are certain issues which should become the subject of dialogue in the interests of the country. “These include election code reform, the system of checks and balances, an increase in Parliament’s role and constitutional changes,” the Parliament Speaker noted.

Bakradze said the property rights of IDPs should be “maximally protected.” He said that a specific agreement on ways of including majoritarian MPs in the process of providing all IDPs from Abkhazia with houses was reached at the meeting with the President.

The Chairman of the ruling National Movement, Petre Tsiskarishvili, who also attended the meeting, said “the Parliamentary majority wants to cooperate with the opposition” and that this cooperation “is in the interests of the country’s stable development.” Tsiskarishvili said however that no positive response had been received from the “other side” on this issue.

National Movement MP David Darchiashvili said before the meeting that “using the language of ultimatums is not good for any party, neither the opposition nor the Government.” The MP also touched upon the issue of possible developments at the April 9 rallies. Darchiashvili said that, given the mood of the majority of society and those in political circles, the demonstration will be peaceful.

On April 6 representatives of the youth wings of the political parties organizing the April 9 rally gathered close to the Presidential Residence as a sign of protest and flyposted stickers bearing Saakashvili’s photo and the slogan “Georgia’s shame.” The police did not allow the demonstrators to get near Saakashvili’s residence, saying that their presence would make it difficult for vehicles to move in Avlabari.

On March 31 the Government proposed to the “radical,” non-Parliamentary opposition that it hold a dialogue with it on “three key issues”: combating the world economic crisis, ensuring security and the maintenance of the national interest and carrying out democratic reforms. The majority of opposition parties immediately refused to participate in talks with the Government, saying that “it was too late” to start a dialogue. Most of the opposition politicians said that what was proposed was an “imitation of dialogue” rather than a genuine offer.

Minister of Penitentiary and Probation Dimitri Shashkin, who has been appointed as a mediator between the Government and opposition, held his second meeting with the Parliamentary opposition later on Monday. At the meeting, attended by Dmitri Shashkin and the representatives of National Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Party, We Ourselves and representatives of non-Governmental organizations, the sides discussed a National Democratic Party initiative to create a state commission to work on constitutional amendments. No details of the composition of this commission have yet been announced.