08TBILISI346, CODEL PRICE MEETS GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI346 2008-02-29 14:16 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1339
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0346/01 0601416
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291416Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8974
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000346 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
H FOR CODEL PRICE, DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM OVIP KDEM GG
SUBJECT: CODEL PRICE MEETS GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS, 
OPPOSITION 
 
REF: TBILISI 188 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  On February 23-24 members of the House 
Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC) visited Tbilisi to 
support democratic reform and fair elections.  CODEL Price 
met with ruling National Movement MPs and Parliament staff 
over dinner and, on February 24, met with opposition leaders 
from five parties.  Congressman Price made brief remarks to 
the press on the purpose of his visit.  With both the 
majority MPs and the opposition, Congressman Price reiterated 
the United States' support and encouragement in developing 
democracy in Georgia.  He also stressed the need for a "truly 
free and democratic" parliamentary election this Spring. 
CODEL members encouraged the majority and opposition to 
continue talking and work out their differences in 
Parliament, rather than with street protests.  Finally, Price 
assured both sides that the HDAC would continue its support 
of Georgia's Parliament and would visit again after the new 
Parliament was seated.  End Summary. 
 
------------------- 
Dinner with the MPs 
------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Jemal Inaishvili, 
hosted CODEL Price and the Ambassador to a traditional 
Georgian dinner on February 23.  Additional attendees 
included: 
 
-- MP Mrs. Nino Nakashidze, Chair of the Parliamentary 
Committee on European Integration; 
-- MP Mr. George Tsereteli, Chair of the Parliamentary 
Committee for Healthcare and Social Issues, and Head of the 
Parliamentary Friendship Group with the USA; 
-- MP Mr. George Gegelashvili, Deputy Chair of the 
Parliamentary Committee for Healthcare and Social Issues; 
-- MP Mr. Zurab Davitashvili; 
-- Mr. Temur Murghulia, Deputy Secretary General of the 
Parliament; 
-- Mrs. Nana Chkoidze, Head of the International Relations 
Department of the Parliament; 
-- Ms. Tina Narsia, Head of Division of the Research 
Department of the Parliament. 
 
3. (SBU)  During the dinner, Congressman Price reiterated the 
United States' support and encouragement in developing 
democracy in Georgia.  He reaffirmed HDAC's desire to 
continue working with and strengthening Georgia's Parliament. 
 He said Parliament should be a representative and 
influential body in the Georgian government.  He also 
stressed the need for a truly fair and democratic electoral 
process during this Spring's parliamentary elections.  CODEL 
members encouraged the majority MPs to continue talking with 
the opposition and work out their differences in Parliament, 
rather than protesting on the street. 
 
-------------------------- 
Coffee with the Opposition 
-------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) On February 24, CODEL Price met with five leaders of 
different opposition parties.  Attendees included: 
 
-- MP Mr. David Gamkrelidze, Chairman of the New Rightists; 
-- MP Mr. Zurab Tkemeladze, Chairman of the Industrialists; 
-- MP Mr. Kakha Kukava, Current Chair of Democratic Front 
faction in Parliament, Conservative Party; 
-- Mr. David Usupashvili, Chairman of the Republican Party; 
-- Ms. Sophie Jajanashvili, representing Salome Zourabichvili 
and Georgia's Way party. 
 
(Note: MP Levan Gachechiladze, leader of the United National 
Council of Opposition (UNC) and former presidential 
candidate, was unable to attend.  End Note.) 
 
5. (SBU) Gamkrelidze opened the opposition's presentation to 
CODEL Price.  Gamkrelidze said that some of the united 
opposition's recent demands put forth to the government 
(reftel) are being negotiated, but none are yet solved.  The 
opposition agreed that continued democratic development of 
Georgia depends on the government's response and the results 
of these negotiations.  Gamkrelidze noted "a peaceful 
transfer of power in Georgia's government has never taken 
place as the result of elections."  Consequently, he said, 
people do not trust elections.  The key, according to 
Gamkrelidze, is to ensure "not just free, but fair" 
parliamentary elections this Spring. 
 
6. (SBU) Each opposition leader addressed the congressmen. 
 
TBILISI 00000346  002 OF 002 
 
 
All focused on the opposition's belief that democratic 
institutions and safeguards on personal liberty are lacking 
in Georgia.  Areas of concern included: 
 
-- The reported lack of true justice and an independent 
judiciary; 
 
-- A perceived inability to influence the government in the 
face of the ruling party's constitutional current 
super-majority; 
 
-- Election issues, including the still unannounced date for 
the election, the proposed "majoritarian" system, and the 
composition of the election commissions at all levels; 
 
-- The alleged use of administrative resources and law 
enforcement to influence the January 5 election with the 
willful conse
nt of President Saakashvili; 
 
-- The forced closure of opposition-oriented Imedi TV in 
November 2007, and alleged government efforts "to co-opt the 
ownership and/or force opposition journalists out;" 
 
-- Alleged wiretaps of all opposition politicians' phone 
conversations by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with no 
judicial or legal recourse; 
 
-- Concern over Saakashvili's recent meeting with Russian 
President Putin at the CIS Summit on February 21, and rumors 
of a "deal" which could threaten Georgia's independence from 
its Northern neighbor; 
 
-- The need (and one of the opposition's demands) for a 
bi-partisan Parliamentary committee for oversight of law 
enforcement activities. 
 
7. (SBU) The opposition leaders agreed "that the elections 
must be done in a just manner."  Usupashvili said this would 
allow Parliament to restore "some influence and balance in 
the government," whereas it is now dominated by the executive 
branch.  Such a development, said Usupashvili, would "help 
Georgia become a real democracy." 
 
8. (SBU) On a different note, Tkemeladze said he believes not 
all of the opposition parties should run as one group (e.g. 
on a single United National Council of Opposition party 
list), nor should they run individually.  Rather, he thinks 
several opposition parties should run together on several 
party lists. 
 
9. (SBU) The phone tapping issue was a main concern of the 
opposition leaders.  Usupashvili told the CODEL that most 
people believe their phones are tapped.  He said the MOIA 
runs the wiretapping program entirely, and the Prosecutor 
General and Ministry of Justice are subject to Minister of 
Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili.  Gamkrelidze alleged that 
the government shows the tapes of opposition politicians' 
conversations on TV "to create a culture of fear among the 
people, so they will do the government's will."  Gamkrelidze 
said no judicial oversight or legal recourse exists regarding 
the wiretaps.  (Note: The Ambassador explained that he has 
spoken with the government about it, and the situation has 
gotten somewhat better since the November political 
confrontation.  End note.)  Gamkrelidze pointed out that the 
opposition's demand for a bi-partisan Parliamentary law 
enforcement oversight committee is designed to address just 
this type of issue. 
 
10. (SBU) In response to the opposition presentations, 
members of the CODEL acknowledged that it is difficult to 
work as the opposition.  Still, they said it is better if 
Parliament, rather than the street, can serve as a forum to 
resolve differences.  The CODEL members agreed that the 
questions of Imedi's ownership, wiretapped conversations, and 
free elections are important to Georgia's democratic 
development.  The congressmen reaffirmed that they are 
committed to working with Georgia's Parliament to strengthen 
and improve it as a representative, influential body.  They 
said the HDAC hopes to visit Georgia in the coming year, 
after the new Parliament is seated. 
 
11. (U) CODEL Price has cleared this cable. 
TEFFT

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