07TBILISI2558, PATRIARCH’S PROPOSAL FOR RESTORATION OF GEORGIA’S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2558 2007-10-10 12:46 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5743
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2558 2831246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101246Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7888
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 002558 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC, EUR/RPM, AND DRL 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: PATRIARCH'S PROPOSAL FOR RESTORATION OF GEORGIA'S 
CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY RECEIVES RESPECTFUL RESPONSE 
 
 
1.  Summary:  In a sermon on October 7, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II 
suggested a constitutional monarchy for Georgia.  The proposal was 
welcomed by many opposition parties in Georgia.  His proposal echoes 
other ideas circulated by the opposition for a "parliamentary 
republic", without a presidency.  The ruling National Movement party 
did not reject the idea outright, but spokesmen commented that it is 
too early to consider it.  We believe the Patriarch's wish is 
unlikely to be fulfilled.  However, the response to his idea 
indicates both the respect in which the Patriarch is held and that 
the opposition's intense dislike for President Saakashvili has made 
them willing to seriously consider the abolition of the office of 
the Presidency altogether.  End summary. 
 
2.  Addressing the congregation at the Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi 
on October 7, the Patriarch proposed an initiative to establish a 
constitutional monarchy in Georgia.  According to the Patriarch 
"very often other states dictate to us what to do.  Some tell us it 
(the government) should be a presidency and some say it should be a 
parliamentary republic.  This is not up to others to decide."  He 
recalled the reign of the Bagrationi dynasty, which was terminated 
in 1801 when Georgia was absorbed by Russia.  Ilia suggested 
restoring the dynasty to the throne by choosing a person to become 
monarch from the Bagrationi family or even grooming someone for the 
job from childhood.  The head of the Patriarch's press service, 
Archpriest Davit Sharashenidze, said that a constitutional monarchy 
would be "a guarantee of the protection of human rights, political 
stability and the unity of the nation." 
 
3.  The Patriarch's initiative was widely supported by the 
opposition, many of whom intensely dislike President Saakashvili and 
the leading role he plays in the current government.  The New 
Rightist Party dedicated a press conference to the issue and 
circulated a declaration supporting the idea, based on "the 
experience of centuries-old history, taking into account dramatic 
events that took place in the country since independence was 
regained, having analyzed wide international practice and guided by 
the appeal of Ilia II." 
 
4.  The Patriarch's idea echoes calls heard in the demonstrations 
following Irakli Okruashvili's arrest for deposing President 
Saakashvili and establishing a "parliamentary republic".  According 
to the Conservative Party's Zviad Dzidziguri, most of the opposition 
parties believe that Georgia "should have a parliamentary form of 
government and its perfect form is a constitutional monarchy." 
Labor party leader Shalva Natelashvili also held a press conference 
on October 8 to support the idea.  The leader of the Freedom Party, 
Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, and the leader of Georgia's Way, Salome 
Zourabichvili, also gave positive assessments.  According to them, a 
king is not a dictator.  He is the guarantor of Georgian traditions, 
national spirit and national identity on the one hand, and of 
territorial integrity on the other.  "I've always supported the idea 
of a constitutional monarchy as the right and most capable model for 
Georgia.  I have also said that if I am elected a president, before 
we (the opposition alliance) began a movement with the slogan 
Without President, I will not be a political leader, but a type of 
leader who supports and protects the rights of the people and 
guarantees protection of other democratic values," Zourabichvili 
said. 
 
5.  The ruling National Movement party did not reject the proposal 
outright, however its spokesmen said that it is too early to speak 
about modifying state governance when Georgia has two breakaway 
regions.  An MP from the ruling party, Vakhtang Balavadze, said the 
issue should only be considered after the restoration of the 
country's territorial integrity.  The same comment was made by one 
of the leaders of the National Movement, Giga Bokeria.  He preferred 
to believe that the Patriarch's initiative refers to the future and 
not to the current situation. 
 
6.  Comment: The Georgian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch are 
well-respected and extremely influential in Georgia.  Any idea the 
Patriarch puts forward must be seriously considered by any 
politician.  The responses we report are couched to give due respect 
to the Patriarch's views.  Nevertheless, in the end we consider a 
restoration of the Georgian monarchy extremely unlikely. 
 
TEFFT

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