08TBILISI136, DAS BRYZA’S JANUARY 19 MEETING WITH ACTING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI136 2008-01-29 13:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3942
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0136/01 0291325
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 291325Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8733
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000136 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: DAS BRYZA'S JANUARY 19 MEETING WITH ACTING 
PRESIDENT NINO BURJANADZE 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John Tefft, reason 1.4(b), and (d). 
 
 1. (C) Summary: Acting President Nino Burjanadze told DAS 
Matthew Bryza at a January 19 meeting that she planned to 
continue talks with representatives of the opposition and 
also pledged to take steps to improve election procedures 
prior to the spring 2008 parliamentary elections.  Burjanadze 
was critical of some members of the opposition, whom she 
called "irresponsible," but remained guardedly optimistic 
about the prospects for the further democratic development of 
Georgia. She concluded that with careful, measured steps by 
both the government and the constructive members of the 
opposition, it would be possible to use the events of the 
fall and the elections to strengthen Georgian democracy. End 
Summary. 
 
Analysis of Presidential Election 
--------------------------------- 
2. (C) In a January 19 meeting with DAS Bryza and Ambassador 
Tefft, Burjanadze promised to address all concerns about 
irregularities during the presidential election.  She argued 
that it was difficult to know which problems were genuine and 
which were exaggerated, adding that even Georgian NGOs had 
conceded that the violations they had uncovered would not 
have changed the outcome of the election. Burjanadze also 
thanked the United States for its statement supporting the 
outcome of the election. 
 
3. (C) Burjanadze admitted surprise that Saakashvili got only 
53 percent of the vote, despite heavy campaign efforts, and 
disappointment that United Opposition candidate Levan 
Gacheciliadze got 25 percent without putting forward a 
realistic program for the country. She also said she was 
somewhat upset that seven percent of Georgians voted for 
oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili even after revelations that 
he was plotting the overthrow of the government. She agreed 
with Ambassador Tefft's assessment that most votes for the 
opposition candidates were "protest" votes against President 
Saakashvili and did not necessarily reflect popular support 
for the opposition. 
 
Prognosis for Talks With the Opposition 
-------------------------------------- 
4. (C) Burjanadze accused the opposition of planning in 
advance to proclaim the presidential election fraudulent. She 
similarly complained that it would prove difficult to sustain 
a productive political dialogue about the country's future 
until opposition leaders acknowledge the legitimacy of 
President Saakashvili's re-election.  DAS Bryza noted that 
the President's willingness to participate in dialogue with 
the opposition would also be a key factor. Burjanadze agreed 
that there were limits to what she alone could accomplish in 
discussions with the opposition; a more productive dialogue 
would require the direct engagement of President Saakashvili. 
 
5. (C) Burjanadze predicted, however, that the United 
Opposition would soon split, with many of its leaders 
adopting a more constructive approach to political dialogue 
with the government. She singled out Republican Party leader 
David Usupashvili as such a constructive force and credited 
him with helping defuse the tension that had flared right 
after the presidential election. 
 
Heading Toward the Parliamentary Election 
----------------------------------------- 
6. (C) Burjanadze admitted that one cause of the current 
political crisis in Georgia was the large majority the ruling 
National Movement holds in the sitting parliament, which led 
the government to sometimes ignore legitimate concerns of the 
opposition. The challenge in the spring parliamentary 
election, she said, would be for the National Movement to 
retain a stable bloc in parliament, while the opposition 
gains enough seats to give it a substantial voice. She also 
expressed concern that Georgia avoid a return to the 
fractionated and ineffective parliaments of the 1990s, where 
a number of small parties held seats and blocked forward 
movement on many issues. 
 
7. (C) To achieve a positive outcome in the parliamentary 
elections, Burjanadze suggested changes in the election code 
to allow more transparent and neutral dispute resolution. The 
current election commissions, divided six-to-six between the 
National Movement and the opposition, are ineffective and 
should be professionalized, she said.  She cautioned that not 
much could be done before the parliamentary elections, but 
pledged to take some steps in this direction quickly. 
 
8. (C) Burjanadze noted that the highly polarized political 
environment would hamper efforts to improve election 
procedures. It would be nearly impossible to find people to 
 
TBILISI 00000136  002 OF 002 
 
 
implement them who would be regarded as sufficiently 
independent and politically acceptable by all sides. 
Burjanadze cited the example of Kublashvili, the Chairman of 
the Supreme Court. Some opposition leaders regard him as 
insuffic
iently independent. When asked, however, these same 
leaders cannot name a more acceptable candidate. Ambassador 
Tefft suggested that an influential Georgian recently 
returned from an extended stay in Europe or the United States 
might be viewed as an independent and neutral arbiter by all 
parties. 
 
9. (C) Comment: Burjanadze's steady leadership and 
willingness to engage in dialogue with the opposition played 
a key role in helping Georgia negotiate the difficult period 
since November 7. As she noted, however, there are limits to 
what she can achieve alone. The opposition has told us it 
could not meet President Saakashvili directly until after the 
parliamentary elections. It will be important that the 
government use the time until the parliamentary elections to 
fix as many problems as possible that were uncovered by the 
OSCE, ODIHR, and other election monitoring missions. End 
Comment. 
 
10. (U) DAS Bryza has cleared this message. 
TEFFT

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