07TBILISI2953, PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI SOFTENS HIS TONE, BUT DIALOGUE WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2953 2007-11-21 14:18 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2521
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2953 3251418
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211418Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8278
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 002953 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC AND EUR/FO 
 
SENSITIVE, SIPDIS 
 
E.O 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI SOFTENS HIS TONE, BUT DIALOGUE WITH 
THE OPPOSITION BREAKS DOWN 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  Dialogue between the government, represented by 
Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze, and the government's 
political opposition began after the unrest of November 7. 
President Saakashvili has been reaching out to various 
constituencies in public appearances that are seemingly aimed at 
changing perceptions that he is out of touch with the public.  The 
new Prime Minister, Lado Gurgenidze, has pledged to take the 
public's views into account in formulating his policies.  Parliament 
is quickly moving to enact many of the electoral changes demanded by 
the opposition.  However, Burjanadze suspended formal discussions 
with the opposition on November 19 because she objects to their 
constantly changing demands and the introduction of a negotiator who 
is suspected of cooperating with the Russians.  She believes the 
opposition is not serious about negotiations, and is simply marking 
time until a new protest rally scheduled for November 25.  End 
Summary. 
 
President Saakashvili Encourages Dialogue 
----------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) President Saakashvili and Prime Minister-nominee Lado 
Gurgenidze held a televised meeting November 19 where the two 
discussed their priorities for the future course of the Georgian 
government.  In particular, Gurgenidze stressed three major goals: 
continued economic growth, creation of jobs, and support for social 
programs targeting the most vulnerable in Georgia.  Gurgenidze 
announced planned increases to pensions and teachers' salaries.  His 
ideas seemed to resonate with the majority of Georgians who are 
disgruntled by the disparity between increasing state revenues and 
decreasing real household income. 
 
3. (SBU) The most interesting part of the televised discussion was 
Saakashvili's emphatic instructions to Gurgenidze to maintain a 
constant dialogue with the population-at-large.  Saakashvili 
stressed that any government plans must be communicated clearly "in 
simple, understandable language."   He underscored that feedback 
from the Georgian people was of paramount importance and the 
"distance between the government and the population was to be zero." 
 
 
4.  (SBU) In response to the President's instructions, Gurgenidze 
stated in a separate interview later November 19 that his governing 
style would be very open and he was ready to have an open dialogue 
with the opposition, non-governmental sector and the media. 
 
Opposition and Ruling Party Need Dialogue 
----------------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze has been engaged in a 
series of meetings with the United National Coalition of Opposition 
(UNC) leaders, the main instigators of the recent Tbilisi protests. 
 As a result of those talks, parliamentary committees are already 
considering a number of amendments to the Election Code, including 
more significant measures that require constitutional changes. 
 
6. (SBU) However, the UNC leaders have continued to make additional 
demands during the discussions, and made statements that there is 
"little sense" in continuing the dialogue when the opposition's main 
demands are not being met.  On November 19, the UNC also called for 
a new protest rally on November 25.  This led Burjanadze to question 
the real intent of the opposition leaders, who, she feels, are 
presenting "ever changing new demands" and actually prefer to return 
to street actions instead of continuing the dialogue. 
 
7.  (SBU) Burjanadze suspended the dialogue on November 19 because 
the opposition desired to substitute Goga Khaindrava for Salome 
Zurabichvili as a negotiator while Zurabichvili is in Europe. 
Khaindrava, although a member of the United Council of the 
opposition, is unacceptable to Burjanadze because he is under a 
cloud of suspicion of cooperation with Russian intelligence 
operatives.  The dialogue with Burjanadze has not resumed as of 
November 21 and is likely to remain suspended until the rally on 
November 25.  Burjanadze urged the Georgian people to ask questions 
about the opposition's motives, and offered assurances she will do 
what she can to keep the situation "as stable as possible". 
 
8.  (SBU) While the recent initiatives to foster dialogue by the 
President and the Speaker are laudable (and some would argue, 
overdue), compromise is not guaranteed.  The opposition is skeptical 
of the timing of the Prime Minister's replacement, viewing new PM 
Lado Gurgenidze as a "stop-gap" temporary measure to "embellish" the 
government's image before the elections.  Also, the opposition 
continues to be confrontational during the dialogue process. 
 
TEFFT

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