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The EU report and Georgia’s internal political situation

By Messenger Staff
Monday, October 5
Georgia’s politicians are still discussing the final report of the EU fact finding commission, or as it is popularly called the ‘Tagliavini Commission.’ This had been anticipated for a long time and now is being read differently and assessed according to the existing opinions of those making the assessment.

As we have asserted previously there are three particular questions that we should answer when evaluating the report. One is what its impact on Georgia’s image, and accordingly its relations with the international community, will be. Another is how it will effect bilateral relations between Georgia and Russia and the third, and maybe most crucial, is what its significance is in the development of the internal political situation in the country.

Though it is doubtful that anyone has so far read the whole text of the report sufficiently thoroughly comments are nevertheless being made. Some members of the radical opposition are still repeating stubbornly that in the light of the report Saakashvili must resign, as a minimum, and may also have to face an international tribunal as well. They keep repeating the major argument of the report, that the full-scale military engagement was started by Georgia when it bombarded Tskhinvali. Such an approach is very straightforward, but also naive and romantic. It is unlikely that the President will resign or lose much of the small approval rating he has left, nor will the report harm the administration significantly.

Eka Beselia, the General Secretary of the Movement for United Georgia, stated on October 2 that the Tagliavini report has once again exposed Saakashvili’s irresponsible conduct and the nig losses it has caused to Georgia’s statehood and sovereignty. She said that Saakashvili’s actions have facilitated the promotion of Russia’s interest in Georgia, led to the death of more than 400 people and delayed the resolution of the conflicts. Leader of the Conservative Party Zviad Dzidziguri stated that the military action started as a result of the Saakashvili administration’s actions. The Conservatives are urging the creation of an investigation commission to study the details of the August 2008 war, or alternatively the matter will be examined by a more serious international court.

Nino Burjanadze of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia said that the Tagliavini Commission had confirmed once again that we have an irresponsible leader who is a threat to the country’s stability and who is leading it to destruction. She called on all political forces to immediately start consultations which would lead to freeing Georgia from the Saakashvili regime. The Labour Party demanded the impeachment of the President and his immediate resignation prior to a court case being initiated against him. Republican Davit Berdzenishvili said that whatever the conclusion says the agenda should be the same; Georgians must peacefully and constitutionally change the administration. He said that the first elections would be local elections, but the opposition should win these and in practice whoever wins Tbilisi will win Georgia.

Nothing new however has been said in the report which has not been said before, certainly nothing which will arouse the people to remove the administration, as they have been failing to do so since last April.

President Saakashvili himself thinks that the document proves that the war was started by the Russians long before the Georgians launched an attack on Tskhinvali. We think that the Tagliavini Commission’s conclusions are written in high quality diplomatic language. They only restate what was already obvious, and several times repeated in some Georgian newspapers, that the Russian side escalated situation by different means: introducing regular and railway troops into the Abkhazian conflict zone, encouraging mercenaries to undertake different types of adventures in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, bringing there huge quantities of military equipment of different types and instructors to train local militia, distributing Russian passports to Georgian citizens and declaring them Russian citizens. It also used its ‘peacekeepers’ to serve its aggressive purposes, which as the Tagliavini Commission mentioned created a passive war by provoking occasional shooting at Georgian positions and facilities and ultimately a mousetrap, in which the Georgian leadership got trapped when it started to shell Tskhinvali and conduct ground operations there.

The Georgian opposition are trying to take advantage of the Tagliavini Commission’s conclusions, or rather those of them they can use against Saakashvili. It wants to launch yet another attack on the administration on the strength of this. What result this could yield nobody knows, but it could easily lead to yet more disappointment and frustration.

We think that there are three major directions in which the opposition would be better off concentrating their efforts. The first is to unite, the second is to try and neutralise the administrative resources possessed by the ruling party and the third is to quickly introduce the necessary amendments into the election code.