07TBILISI1976, DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1976 2007-08-08 13:02 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4797
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1976/01 2201302
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081302Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7238
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 001976 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA, EUR/CARC, AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG RU
SUBJECT: DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS 
 
REF: TBILISI 1638 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Mark X. Perry for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: On July 27, EUR DAS Matt Bryza met with 
influential majority Members of Parliament.  Saakashvili 
insider Giga Bokeria complained that the recent UN report 
on the situation in Abkhazia was unbalanced.  Bryza argued 
that the UNOMIG Joint Fact Finding Group (JFFG) report made 
a strong case regarding Russian responsibility in the March 
11 Upper Kodori bombing.  He stressed that Georgia must 
continue to work constructively with the UN and OSCE 
regarding the separatist conflicts.  Bryza affirmed that a 
Membership Action Plan (MAP) for NATO before the 2008 
meeting in Bucharest is the mutual goal of the USG and 
GOG.  Bokeria, supported by all the others, expressed 
skepticism about the idea of an American Corner in 
Abkhazia, fearing it would be seen as USG support for 
independence aspirations of the de facto authorities. 
Turning to South Ossetia, Bryza praised the Georgian 
approach, but cautioned against the GOG embracing Sanakoyev 
too closely.  Bryza advised the GOG to work closely with 
the OSCE to improve conditions in South Ossetia.  On 
elections, Bokeria and the others said that the government 
would likely lower the threshold from seven to five percent 
to enter Parliament, but argued that the majoritarian 
system is the only way to ensure opposition voices in 
Parliament and that a professional Central Election 
Commission (CEC) keeps politics out of the technical 
running of the elections (reftel).  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------- 
Abkhazia - Pointing Fingers 
--------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On July 27, DAS Matt Bryza and Charge met with 
influential United National Movement (UNM) Members of 
Parliament, Giga Bokeria (Deputy Chair of the Legal Issues 
Committee), Nick Rurua (Deputy Chair of the Defense and 
Security Committee), Nino Nakashidze (Deputy Chair of the 
Foreign Relations Committee), and Irina Kurtadze (Chairman 
of the Speaker's Cabinet).  Saakashvili insider Bokeria 
dominated the conversation.  He stressed that the 
Government of Georgia (GOG) believes the recent UN interim 
report on the situation in Abkhazia is prejudiced against 
Georgia.  He claimed there is no mention of ethnic 
cleansing by the de facto Abkhaz authorities, forced 
conscription of ethnic Georgians into the Abkhaz army, or 
of the dire human rights situation in Gali.  The MPs 
complained that instead the GOG was singled out for 
provoking the situation with a youth camp, something that 
was in fact positive and needed.  Bryza countered that the 
recent United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) 
Joint Fact Finding Group (JFFG) report was a victory for 
Georgia, clearly suggesting that only Russia could have 
been responsible for the March 11 attack. 
 
3. (C) Bryza stressed that Georgia has played a smart hand 
regarding Abkhazia, and must continue to drive a wedge 
between the Abkhaz authorities and Russia.  He said Georgia 
must continue to work in the UN and OSCE to improve 
Georgia's standing in Europe.  Citing concerns of the 
potential for an unintended accident or provocation caused 
by young Georgians at the new youth camp established by the 
GOG on the north side of the Enguri River, he said the camp's 
provocative location undercut Georgia's diplomatic position 
in NATO and the UN.  Rurua and Bokeria complained 
that they "don't have much time" to counter Russian 
propaganda against Georgia.  Bryza countered that Georgia 
needed to slow down, perhaps focusing first on resolving the 
South Ossetia conflict, which was moving in the right 
direction.  Next, Georgia should advance its NATO-MAP 
aspirations.  With South Ossetia out of the way and MAP on 
the way, Tbilisi would find the Abkhazia conflict more 
manageable.  Bryza reaffirmed the USG's enduring support for 
Georgia's territorial integrity, and would try to deter 
Russian recognition of Abkhazia (in the context of Kosovo) by 
arguing:  (1)  recognition of Abkhazia would open a Pandora's 
Box in the North as well as South Caucasus; and (2) neither 
Abkhazia nor any political entity can garner legitimacy on 
the foundation of ethnic cleansing.  Until the IDP issue is 
resolved, any Abkhaz claims of independence on the basis of a 
referendum held while hundreds of thousands of ethnic 
Georgians were disenfranchised will remain illegitimate. 
Finally, Bryza reassured the group that a Membership Action 
Plan (MAP) for NATO before the 2008 meeting in Bucharest is 
the mutual goal of the GOG and USG.  He told the group that 
MAP will greatly increase Georgian ability to withstand 
Russian pressure.  In cautioning against further 
provocation by the GOG, Bryza advised that the Olympics in 
 
TBILISI 00001976  002 OF 003 
 
 
Sochi may also moderate Russian action in the region. 
 
------------------------ 
Possible USG Assistance? 
------------------------ 
 
4. (C) Charge suggested the idea of establishing two 
American
 Corners in Abkhazia, one in Sokhumi and one in 
Gali, which could improve the standing of the USG in the 
region and serve as a conduit for information and political 
reporting.  Bokeria said he personally opposed the idea, 
fearing it would be seen as USG support for the de facto 
Abkhaz authorities.  Rurua and Nakashidze agreed.  Charge 
advised that five American Corners are already operating 
throughout Georgia, and this could be a natural extension 
of the program in Georgia's internationally-recognized 
territory.  Bokeria said the GOG is in the process of 
considering a similar EU proposal.  The condition on that 
proposal would likely be that any information center in 
Abkhazia follow the opening of other centers in Georgia. 
Although clearly not a supporter of the idea, he indicated 
that, if agreed, this could be one way to consider the 
opening of an American Corner as well. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
South Ossetia - Close, But Not Too Close 
---------------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Bryza said he agree with Georgian thinking that the 
conflict in South Ossetia could be resolved first, enabling 
Abkhazia to follow.  Bryza encouraged the GOG to resolve 
the water issue in South Ossetia, and to work closely with 
the OSCE to improve living conditions there.  Bokeria said 
Kokoity 
is blocking any resolution of the matter.  Bryza advised 
the USG will push the issue at the OSCE.  In the meantime, 
he suggested, the GOG should let Sanakoyev gather ethnic 
Ossetian support and not embrace him too tightly as a puppet. 
 Only through an organic process of gaining the support of 
local Ossetians can Sanakoyev develop political legitimacy in 
South Ossetia as well as Europe. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
Elections and Representation - No Deal For The Opposition 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
 
6. (C) Bryza said that NATO Allies would look closely at 
the upcoming 2008 elections in gauging how quickly to proceed 
with Georgia's NATO aspirations.  He asked Bokeria about 
the opposition's request for electoral reforms (reftel), 
and mentioned the recent Parliamentary elections in Turkey 
as a positive development.  Now the Turkish 
Parliament is much more representative of that country's 
diverse population, with the AK Party's number of seats in 
parliament more closely reflecting the percentage of the vote 
it received in the election.  Could not such a development 
also 
benefit Georgia, and allow for a viable opposition to emerge? 
 
7. (C) Bokeria expressed frustration (as Speaker Burjanadze 
did later - septel) that now that the majority is willing 
to agree to opposition complaints about the 7 percent 
threshold, they say that this issue is no longer important 
and have raised two others instead.  On the opposition 
criticism of the majoritarian system, he said we will "not 
give away our majority, and a strong party could still 
compete" under the proposed system.  Bokeria claimed that 
the majoritarian system was in fact put in place to ensure 
that the opposition would receive representation in 
Parliament.  Without it, he said, the ruling party would 
take every single seat.  PolChief mentioned OSCE concern 
that the electoral system could be more representative, and 
asked if it could be, which in turn would build Georgia's 
diplomatic support in Europe.  Bokeria said lowering the 
threshold 
would address that concern.  Bryza asked why the UNM would 
not want to adapt electoral procedures to reflect a less 
managed - albeit European-standard - system, and thereby 
garner more political support in Europe.  He claimed that the 
most recent polls of at 
least 70% support for the UNM reflect the composition of 
Parliament, and that it represents the electorate. 
(Comment: Opposition MPs gave Bryza a figure of 30% support 
for the UNM, but approximately 60% support for President 
Saakashvili.  In the October 2006 local elections, UNM 
received 66.5 percent of the vote in Tbilisi and 77 percent 
in the regions.  End Comment.) 
 
8. (U) Bryza thanked the group and congratulated them on 
the enactment of the bill to ban ex-parte communication in 
court proceedings, and encouraged the implementation of 
 
TBILISI 00001976  003 OF 003 
 
 
this and other legislation on judicial reform. 
 
9. (U) DAS Bryza cleared this cable. 
PERRY

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