08TBILISI116, DAS BRYZA’S JANUARY 19 MEETING WITH GEORGIAN PRIME

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08TBILISI116.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI116 2008-01-24 12:46 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0762
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV
DE RUEHSI #0116/01 0241246
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 241246Z JAN 08      *ZUI RUEHTI SVC #8282 0241456 RESENDING*
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8667
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000116 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC, EEB/ESC/ISC AND INL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ETRD ENRG KCRM USTR GG RU
SUBJECT: DAS BRYZA'S JANUARY 19 MEETING WITH GEORGIAN PRIME 
MINISTER GURGENIDZE 
 
REF: TBILISI 3098 
 
TBILISI 00000116  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1. (S) Summary: In a January 19 meeting with Georgian Prime 
Minister Lado Gurgenidze, EUR DAS Matthew Bryza said that 
following Embassy Tbilisi's extensive review, the USG did not 
agree with opposition claims that massive fraud occurred or 
skewed the outcome of the January 5 presidential election, 
but did find there were serious irregularities which should 
be corrected before the parliamentary elections this spring. 
Gurgenidze promised the GOG will make improvements in 
election procedures.  The Prime Minister expressed concern 
about Russian recognition of Abkhazia's independence after 
Kosovo's independence is recognized by the United States and 
other countries.  He agreed with Bryza that vigorous 
diplomacy is needed to demonstrate to Russia it would be 
isolated were it to recognize Abkhazia.  Bryza suggested that 
in any event, the focus of Georgia's friends in their 
Abkhazia diplomacy should shift to the bigger question of how 
to resolve the conflict.  Gurgenidze said that Georgia is 
going to change its energy policy, and to reserve use of 
cheaper gas it receives for pipeline transit from Azerbaijan 
and Russia to supply residential customers and power 
generation.  Industrial customers will have to pay the price 
demanded for gas, and the economy will have to absorb the 
shock.  He expressed concern about the security implications 
of the upcoming transfer from Georgia of an Iranian arms 
dealer to the United States for prosecution.  He also told 
Bryza that Georgia intends to pursue Badri Patarkatishvili 
and his assets, wherever they are, based on charges of 
treason.  He alluded to the GOG's uncovering of still another 
failed coup plot involving Patarkatsishvili after the January 
5 election.  While U.S. company News Corporation may be 
interested in buying Imedi television, he said that it would 
be better for News Corp to establish an entirely new station 
on a different frequency if it is interested in doing 
business in Georgia, rather than seek to revive Imedi.  End 
Summary. 
 
TOWARD A BETTER PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) DAS Bryza congratulated Gurgenidze for President 
Saakashvili's impending inauguration.  Gurgenidze promised 
his government would improve election procedures further in 
advance of the Spring parliamentary elections.  Bryza agreed, 
saying this is crucial for Georgian democracy and for its 
NATO membership aspirations.  He told Gurgenidze the USG 
view, following Embassy Tbilisi's extensive review of fraud 
claims, is that there were some serious election 
irregularities, but not massive fraud as alleged by the 
opposition.  The U.S. Embassy and OSCE, as well as DAS Bryza 
himself, had brought the irregularities to the attention of 
the government, which had provided explanations, and 
expressed willingness to improve.  Bryza said that in his 
meetings with opposition leaders, they seemed to be beginning 
to understand the opportunity they now enjoy to win real 
power in Parliament, if they focus on developing and selling 
electoral platforms to voters rather than remaining focused 
on claims of fraud in the presidential election.  Bryza told 
Gurgenidze that opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze seems 
worried that the radical elements of the opposition cannot be 
controlled.  At the same time, Gachechiladze seems willing to 
move on, despite his refusal to admit the legitimacy of the 
Saakashvili government.  Gurgenidze agreed the opposition has 
a good chance to succeed in the parliamentary elections, if 
they can articulate a message that is attractive to the 
voters.  The National Movement knows it has its work cut out 
for it, he said. 
 
KOSOVO INDEPENDENCE AND RUSSIAN 
RECOGNITION OF ABKHAZIA 
------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Gurgenidze expressed deep concern about the impending 
declaration of independence by Kosovo and recognition of it 
by the U.S. and EU.  He sought clarification about when this 
might happen, and Bryza said that it may occur after 
elections in Serbia.  Gurgenidze said he hopes it will take 
place after February.  Bryza said that although previously it 
seemed that the Government of Russia was aware what a 
Pandora's box recognition of Abkhazia's independence would 
be, hard-liners in the Kremlin seem to be gaining strength. 
A Russian recognition may be becoming more likely, he said. 
Therefore, it is important to deploy a plan to isolate Russia 
on this issue, including vigorous diplomacy around the world. 
 Gurgenidze said that Georgia is already working hard to 
secure a non-recognition pledge from European governments. 
 
 
TBILISI 00000116  002 OF 003 
 
 
4. (C) Regarding the UN Friends pr
ocess on Abkhazia, Bryza 
expressed regret that the international community is focusing 
solely on minutiae, such as the number of civilian police or 
a no first use of force pledge by Georgia, rather than on the 
urgent need for a political resolution of the Abkhazia 
conflict.  There are tensions between Moscow and Sukhumi that 
offer opportunities, he said.  Gurgenidze observed that 
tension would be exploitable only if Russia refuses to 
recognize Abkhazia's independence.  Bryza said that a Russian 
recognition would change the rules of the game in the region, 
generating a new level of instability.  The Abkhaz do not 
want to be absorbed by Russia, he said, and we need to 
determine whether the authorities in Sukhumi could in fact 
accept a confederation, or some other solution, but not get 
stuck on technicalities.  Abkhaz de facto president Bagapsh 
is a pragmatist, with a Georgian wife, he noted.  Gurgenidze 
worried that the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will bring a lot 
of money to Abkhazia that no pragmatist could resist.  Bryza 
suggested that Moscow's desire for a secure environment for 
the Olympics may deter recognition.  Georgia and the 
international community need to play to the desires of the 
Abkhaz who do not want to be part of Russia and offer an 
alternative vision of economic cooperation with Georgia 
related to the Olympics. 
 
HOW TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA? 
------------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Gurgenidze told Bryza that for him, it is hard to say 
what, if anything, Georgia can do to make recognition harder 
for Russia.  He finds Russian overtures to end the wine ban 
disingenuous, although it is good there is a semblance of 
dialogue.  In fact, he said, he does not care about or need 
the Russian market anymore, given Georgia's reorientation of 
its trade relationships.  Russia's WTO accession is a card in 
Georgia's control, he said, and Georgia has not changed its 
position (reftel).  The ball is in Russia's court to respond 
to Georgia's proposal to solve the deadlock.  He said that if 
Russia does not respond to the proposal by the end of 
November, he himself may attend the next Russia WTO accession 
working group meeting in Geneva.  Georgia will use the time 
remaining before Kosovo's independence to try to find ways to 
improve bilateral relations with Russia, but there is little 
to work with beyond the wine and WTO issues.  Bryza told 
Gurgenidze that senior Russian Foreign Ministry officials had 
recently acknowledged that South Ossetian de facto president 
Kokoity's days are numbered, and seem to be looking for a way 
forward, though Kremlin hard-liners may think differently. 
The Sochi Olympics might offer some prospects, he said, 
because Putin's personal reputation depends on their success. 
 Gurgenidze summed up by saying that Georgia is ready to 
improve Russian relations and move forward. 
 
CHEAP GAS FOR HOUSEHOLDS AND POWER ONLY 
--------------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Gurgenidze announced a change in Georgian policy on 
natural gas imports.  He said that the government had been 
paternalistic toward the market, trying to maintain a low 
overall blended price of gas for all consumers.  Now it will 
reserve cheaper gas received in return for pipeline transit 
for household heating and power generation, and require 
industrial customers to buy gas at any price they can from 
Gazprom or Azerigaz.  He predicted that Georgia will not need 
its thermal generating plants as much if its plans for more 
hydroelectric power production are realized in the near 
future.  "The government will no longer go begging around the 
region for gas supplies," Gurgenidze said.  He expects that 
the new policy will cost the Georgian economy about 2 percent 
of GDP, a blow the economy will be able to absorb, in his 
opinion.  He reported that Georgia's attempts last year to 
persuade BP to be more flexible about supplying "reinjected 
gas" to the Azeri government had gone nowhere, but he 
understood BP's reasons for refusing to do so. 
 
CONCERN ABOUT TRANSFER OF AN IRANIAN CRIMINAL 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
7. (S) Gurgenidze said that the GOG is very concerned about 
Iran's reaction to the upcoming transfer of Iranian arms 
trader, Amabeli, to the United States for trial.  "It could 
get very nasty," Gurgenidze said.  The Ambassador told 
Gurgenidze that the transfer would take place very fast to 
minimize dangers surrounding it.  After that, he said, the 
Iranians may not make their objections public or follow 
through on their threats, in order to avoid further damage to 
their reputation.  Gurgenidze was only partially reassured, 
saying that in some measure the Iranian reaction depends on 
how the USG plays the matter.  He asked for a U.S. statement 
underlining our strong support for Georgia, both on this 
 
TBILISI 00000116  003 OF 003 
 
 
matter and in general. 
 
PATARKATSISHVILI STILL PLOTTING, 
IMEDI NOT WORTH PURSUING BY NEWS CORP 
------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Bryza told Gurgenidze that the head of News 
Corporation's European operations, Martin Pompadour, is 
interested in working out a deal with the Georgian government 
to take control of Imedi Television from its owner Badri 
Patarkatsishvili, who admitted to offering USD 100 million to 
a senior Ministry of Interior official in a possible coup 
plot.  Gurgenidze said that he had been speaking to Pompadour 
every day until recently, but had not heard from him in the 
past few days.  It seemed to Gurgenidze that Patarkatsishvili 
is not interested in selling the station.  Pompadour had 
suggested to Gurgenidze that a deal could involve getting 
Patarkatsishvili out of Imedi and out of Georgian politics, 
while allowing him to retain some of his assets.  However, 
Gurgenidze continued, Imedi has very few assets, and he 
thinks News Corporation would be better off bidding for a new 
television frequency and starting afresh.  Such a deal would 
contradict Georgia's intention to pursue Patarkatsishvili on 
criminal charges of treason and subversion wherever he is. 
Gurgenidze said the government has evidence of a failed plot 
involving Patarkatsishvili and internal security officials 
which occurred even after the January 5 elections. 
Patarkatsishvili needs relatively small amounts of money to 
continue such subversion and that is why the GOG wants to tie 
up as many of his assets as possible around the world, 
Gurgenidze said.  Bryza emphasized that the USG does not want 
to interfere with the rule of law or a Georgian prosecution 
of Patarkatsishvili. 
 
9. (U) This telegram has been cleared by DAS Bryza. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: