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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09TBILISI910 2009-05-14 11:18:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi
Cable title:  

GEORGIA: SPEAKER BAKRADZE EXPLAINS POSITION ON PROTESTS TO

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL GG 
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VZCZCXYZ0014
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0910 1341118
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD662B4D VSG0006 538)
R 141118Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1558
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
					  UNCLAS TBILISI 000910 

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDED ADDEE)

DEPT FOR EUR/CARC

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SPEAKER BAKRADZE EXPLAINS POSITION ON PROTESTS TO
CODEL DAVIS

Sensitive But Unclassified, Not for Internet Distribution



1. (SBU) Summary: Parliamentary Speaker David Bakradze met May 8
with the members of Codel Davis to discuss the current political
situation in Georgia. Bakradze explained the GoG's plans to handle
the ongoing protests and to implement political reforms. End
Summary.

GoG Wants to Break Cycle of Protests



2. (SBU) Bakradze told the six visiting members of Congress that
the GoG was allowing the protests organized by the non-parliamentary
opposition that were blocking many downtown Tbilisi streets to
continue for many reasons, but the overarching policy goal was to
de-legitimize the use of street protests as the major vehicle for
political change in Georgia. Bakradze noted that former Presidents
Gamsakhurdia and Shevardnadze were removed via protests and hoped
that Georgia could break this destructive cycle. Bakradze said that
if Georgia is to take the next step towards becoming a western style
democracy, it needed to solve its problems through dialogue and not
street ultimatums.



3. (SBU) Bakradze readily acknowledged that the Rose Revolution
began as a street protest but was quick to draw a distinction
between Georgia under President Shevardnadze and the current
political climate in Georgia. Bakradze said that protests led to a
radicalization of the political elite, and the GoG was single-minded
in its desire to discredit the use of protests and ultimatums as an
effective way, versus success in the electoral process, to conduct a
political dialogue. Bakradze said the goal was to get the
discussions into Parliament and out of the street, noting that a
sizable number of the protest organizers had refused their seats in
parliament in 2008.

Government Will Let the Protests Continue



4. (SBU) Bakradze said that the government was going to let the
protests continue in order to leave no doubt that the
non-parliamentary opposition had ample time to express their views.
The added political benefit, according to Bakradze, was that people
were tiring of protests and the non-parliamentary opposition was
only serving to discredit itself as a legitimate poltical force
with a constructive political message by continuing the now
month-long protests.



5. (SBU) Bakradze stressed that the government recognized that the
November 7, 2007, crackdown had been a mistake and that Georgia's
leaders had learned valuable lessons. He said that current GoG
policy was to exercise maximum restraint, in part to make clear to
its citizens and the international community that it did learn from
the mistakes made on November 7, 2007. When asked how long the
protests would continue, Bakradze acknowledged that if the
non-parliamentary opposition started to block major highways and
ports of entry, the GoG would have to react, but that if "they want
to sit on Rustaveli Avenue with a couple thousand people", the GoG
had no current plans to stop them. Bakradze expressed hope that the
non-parliamentary opposition would engage in meaningful dialogue.

GoG Prepared to Reform on its Own



6. (SBU) Bakradze outlined four major areas in which the GoG was
willing to negotiate with the radical opposition. Bakradze
mentioned constitutional reform, specifically strengthening
parliament versus the executive branch; on-going electoral reform
(Embassy Note: the non-parliamentary opposition, save one party, has
declined participation. End Note); local governance reform,
including the direct election of mayors; and judiciary reform.
Bakradze reiterated that the GoG was willing to meet without
QBakradze reiterated that the GoG was willing to meet without
precondition but would not consider resignation in the face of
ultimatums.


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