07TBILISI1101, SPEAKER BURJANADZE ON OPPOSITION, CONFLICTS, AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1101 2007-05-11 13:01 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2516
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1101/01 1311301
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 111301Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6304
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001101 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM GG RU
SUBJECT: SPEAKER BURJANADZE ON OPPOSITION, CONFLICTS, AND 
ELECTIONS 
 
REF: TBILISI 1036 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: During a May 10 meeting with Ambassador, 
Speaker Burjanadze said she was frustrated by opposition New 
Rights party MP David Gamkrelidze's decision to withdraw from 
an inter-faction parliamentary group established to draft a 
new law on property rights.  Burjanadze said Gamkrelidze 
withdrew his cooperation because he fears losing popularity 
among his electorate by working with the ruling party. 
Citing recent opposition contributions to legislation, she 
said she hopes this "important" cooperation will continue. 
Burjanadze was positive on her recent trip to "alternative 
government" headquarters in Kurta where she met Sanakoev and 
local citizens.  She regrets the Kokoity regime's refusal to 
talk with the Government but said the GOG remains committed 
to offering a dialogue with the de facto authorities. 
Burjanadze said Parliament and the Central Election 
Commission (CEC) are reviewing the OSCE Ambassador's group on 
Elections suggested steps to prepare for the 2008 
Parliamentary and Presidential elections which were delivered 
on May 2 (reftel).  She added that she "unofficially" 
supports calls from some quarters to reduce the 7% threshold 
for political parties to enter Parliament to 5%.  She said it 
is critical to ensure that Georgia's weak opposition parties 
are able to win seats in the upcoming election in order to 
strengthen democratic checks on government power and to avoid 
a National Movement sweep of the legislature.  End Summary. 
 
----------------------------------- 
Ruling Party-Opposition Cooperation 
----------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) During a May 10 meeting with Ambassador, Speaker 
Burjanadze said she was frustrated by New Rights opposition 
MP David Gamkrelidze's decision to withdraw from an 
inter-faction parliamentary group established to draft a new 
law on property rights.  Burjanadze, a force behind recent 
moves by the Government to reach out to the opposition on 
national strategic objectives, criticized Gamkrelidze's 
decision as misguided and short-sighted.  The move has also 
made further compromise on the property rights law more 
difficult for Burjanadze, as Gamkrelidze's withdrawal from 
the inter-factional group will strengthen the position of 
National Movement reformers who are skeptical of the merits 
of consulting with the opposition. 
 
3. (C) Burjanadze said the recent detente between opposition 
parliamentary factions and the ruling party has produced 
strong results, citing constructive opposition contributions 
to recent legislative initiatives on the tax code and the 
preservation of Georgia's cultural heritage.  Despite 
Gamkrelidze's "ill-advised" decision to suspend cooperation 
with the National Movement, she hopes this important 
cooperation with the other opposition factions will continue. 
 (Note: On May 10, in another blow to the ruling party - 
opposition detente, Zurab Tkemaladze, an MP from the 
Industrialist party, also withdrew from the inter-faction 
parliamentary working group on property rights, casting doubt 
on whether the group will continue to meet.  End Note.) 
 
------------- 
South Ossetia 
------------- 
 
4. (C) Burjanadze was positive about her recent trip to South 
Ossetian "alternative government" headquarters in Kurta, 
where she said locals are supportive of union with Tbilisi 
but asked serious questions about what their autonomy would 
specifically entail.  She said Sanakoev made a strong 
impression as a leader who has the support of the local 
population.  She regrets the Kokoity regime's refusal to talk 
with the Government but said the GOG remains committed to 
offering dialogue.  She believes Russia is pressuring both 
the Kokoity regime in South Ossetia and the Bagapsh regime in 
Abkhazia to prevent them from meeting with the Georgian 
government.  She says Russia hopes to keep the regimes 
isolated to prevent bonds developing on a "human level" 
through talks with Tbilisi. 
 
--------- 
Elections 
--------- 
 
5. (C)  Burjanadze said a parliamentary task force headed by 
Vice-Speaker Misha Machavariani, is working with the CEC to 
review the OSCE Ambassador's Group on Elections suggested 
steps to prepare for the 2008 Parliamentary and Presidential 
elections.  She added that she "unofficially" supports 
growing calls from some quarters to reduce the 7% threshold 
for political parties to enter Parliament to 5%.  She is 
 
TBILISI 00001101  002 OF 002 
 
 
concerned however, that a 5% threshold would allow regional 
and ethnic parties to develop and gain a foothold in 
Parliament.  She said the history of former strongman Aslan 
Abashidze's Adjara regional "Revival" party, underlines the 
danger regional parties potentially pose for Georgia. 
 
6. (C) She affirmed that her primary interest is to ensure 
that
Georgia's weak opposition parties are able to win seats 
in the upcoming election in order to strengthen democratic 
checks on government power and to avoid a National Movement 
sweep of the legislature.  She said if the Parliamentary 
elections -- five years after the Rose Revolution -- return a 
Parliament "totally dominated" by the National Movement, it 
would be a disaster for Georgia's image in the international 
community and for the internal political balance of power. 
TEFFT

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