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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2000 2007-08-10 05:10 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #2000/01 2220510
P 100510Z AUG 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002000 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2017 
1.  (C) Summary:  On 27 July, DAS Bryza met with Georgian 
Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze and discussed a wide 
range of issues.  Burjanadze told us that Turkmenistan is 
interested in closer business and military ties with the 
West.  She believed the ruling National Movement needed to 
find an acceptable solution with the opposition about 
composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and 
multi-mandate majoritarian seats, but wasn't sure how such a 
compromise could be reached.  Burjanadze criticized the UN 
Secretary General's interim report on Abkhazia, including 
particularly its views about the Georgian youth camp in 
Ganmukhuri.  She felt the UN Secretary General was not fully 
informed of the situation with regard to the camp, including 
that it is located nowhere near Abkhaz population centers. 
Burjandaze was hopeful that the GoG's new plan to bring an 
end to the conflict in South Ossetia would be fruitful. 
Bryza praised Georgia's successes in combating trafficking, 
passing the ex Parte Communications Bill, and proposing a 
commission to address South Ossetia autonomy.  Bryza urged 
Burjanadze to continue with judicial reforms and 
implementation of recently passed legislation, saying that 
failing to do so could slow NATO accession as a result of 
European concerns. End Summary. 
Turkmen Want NATO and Business Ties 
2.  (C) Burjanadze relayed that during a recent meeting with 
Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov, he told 
her that Turkmenistan would be very interested in doing 
business with Western energy companies, but only those with 
serious proposals.  According to Burjanadze, the Turkmen are 
tired of selling their gas to Russia for a third of what they 
can get from European customers.  Berdimuhammedov is 
interested in having contracts with other businesses, such as 
British Petroleum and Shell--not just with Gazprom. 
President Berdimuhammedov was impressed at Georgia's 
transition to a professional army with modern equipment; he 
expressed the desire that this happen for his country where 
they have antiquated Soviet systems. He expressed interest in 
cooperation with NATO. Burjanadze urged Berdimuhammedov to 
integrate his country more fully into the rest of the world 
and to improve its ties to the West.  She understood that 
Turkmenistan was considering sending a delegation to OSCE. 
Bryza commended Burjanadze for her efforts in helping the 
Turkmen understand U.S. interests in the region and lauded 
her efforts as proof that Georgia is an important regional 
Electoral Reform 
3.  (C) DAS Bryza encouraged the ruling National Movement to 
continue working with the opposition on judicial reform, and 
implementation of the ex parte communications ban.  He 
stressed the crucial need for Georgian democracy to develop a 
viable political opposition.  Burjanadze listed the three 
issues surrounding electoral reform as lowering the threshold 
from 7 per cent to 5 per cent, changes to the multi-mandate 
majoritarian seats in Parliament, and changes to the 
composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC). 
Burjanadze stated that the National Movement saw changing the 
threshold from 7 to 5 percent as the most important issue and 
was amazed that the opposition now claimed it was not 
important.  This is something the government is preparing to 
do. She said the other issues are of lesser importance, and 
did not indicate that the Parliament would totally address 
opposition concerns. (Reftel A.) (COMMENT: Under the current 
system, the multi-mandate majoritarian seats in Parliament 
are such that it is a winner-take-all election system for 
majoritarian MPs and voters are only allowed to vote for one 
party rather than individuals.  This means that in Tbilisi 
which has 5 seats, a voter chooses a party not an individual. 
The party which gets the most votes fills all 5 seats with 
candidates on its party list. This system is present in some 
European countries but is seen by some Georgians as an 
attempt by the ruling National Movement to keep its 
opposition weak. END COMMENT).  With regards to the 
multi-mandate majoritarian seat change, Burjanadze was 
concerned that Georgia should avoid Ukraine-style political 
gridlock.  Bryza suggested that each political party nominate 
a non-political disinterested expert to represent them on the 
CEC, but Burjanadze was skeptical that this would work. DAS 
Bryza recommended that some "golden mean" could be found to 
address the above issues. Burjandaze agreed. Bryza cautioned 
that if the Europeans perceived that there was a lack of 
TBILISI 00002000  002 OF 002 
dedication to continuing judicial reforms and transparent 
elections, this could slow Georgia' NATO accession. Both 
agreed that a boycott of the elections due to opposition 
disenchantment was not the desired outcome. 
Camps and Games 
4.  (C) Burjanadze told Bryza that she was not happy with the 
UN Secretary General's interim report on Abkhazia and in 
particular with the call on Georgia to move the Patriot youth 
camp from the village of Ganmukhuri, close to Abkhaz 
controlled territory.  She said that the Secretary General 
was not fully informed.  She stated the focus of this report 
should have been on bigger issues, including on human rights 
violations and the need to return IDPs.  Burjanadze stated 
that the camp was safe--she had even considered sending her 
own son there.  She then quoted Alexander Zhukov, Russia's 
Deputy Prime Minister, as saying that the Russians were 
planning on using part of Abkhazia in their plans for the 
2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.  She said that Georgia was 
open to any Russian-Georgian joint activities, but would not 
permit Russia to hold international sports events on Georgian 
territory. Bryza told Burjanadze that the issue of the youth 
camp is the Georgian Government's decision ultimately, but 
international perception was that the presence of Georgians 
in a camp very close to Abkhazia could cause rapid escalation 
if something were to go awry. 
South Ossetia Plan--Excellent 
5.  (C) Bryza praised Georgian efforts to bring to resolve 
the conflict in South Ossetia peacefully, including the 
recent creation of a Commission to hammer out the details of 
autonomy for the region.  His advice to Burjandaze was that 
the Georgians should not rush the plan, and that the GoG 
should open up positions on the commission to those who do 
not necessarily share GoG views.  Bryza explained it was in 
Georgia's interest to be low-key in resolving this issue so 
as not to raise tension unnecessarily and thereby damage 
Georgia's position with the Europeans.  Bryza told Burjandaze 
that the costs are going up for the Russians everyday with 
regards to South Ossetia and they know themselves that 
Kokoity is a liability.  Bryza recommended that the GoG 
encourage the European Union to get involved and to formulate 
a time line. Burjanadze told us that Sergey Lavrov, Russia's 
Foreign Minister, seemed surprisingly positive about Georgian 
initiatives in South Ossetia during an informal conversation 
in Istanbul.  She stressed that the Georgian motives were 
honorable in wanting to solve the South Ossetian issue and 
that she feels there is an opening in finding a solution now. 
 She said she was much more positive about resolving South 
Ossetia than Abkhazia. 
6.  (U) DAS Bryza has cleared this cable. 


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