08TBILISI496, PATRIARCH CALLS FOR DIALOGUE, BURJANADZE REJECTS

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. #08TBILISI496.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI496 2008-03-21 13:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1414
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0496/01 0811323
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211323Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9144
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000496 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/21/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: PATRIARCH CALLS FOR DIALOGUE, BURJANADZE REJECTS 
OPPOSITION "ULTIMATUM" 
 
REF: TBILISI 473 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Mark X. Perry for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: On March 20, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II 
called on the United National Council of Opposition (UNC) and 
the New Rightists (NR) to end their hunger strike (reftel) 
and return to dialogue with the ruling National Movement 
(UNM).  At the same time, Ilia II called on the UNM to "take 
steps to lessen confrontation and promote the resumption of 
talks."  Following the Patriarch's call, UNC leaders and NR 
Chairman David Gamkrelidze met with Ilia II at his residence. 
 The opposition leaders unanimously presented a "compromise 
proposal" to Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze, following 
the meeting.  The proposal agreed to drop all other 
opposition demands if the UNM would agree to elect 75 
majoritarian seats in Parliament according to "regional 
proportional lists" rather than by single mandate districts. 
Burjanadze, visibly tense in a live TV address, rejected the 
opposition's proposal as an "ultimatum."  She said that the 
opposition should pay due respect to the Patriarch and 
immediately accede to his request, ending the hunger strike. 
Burjanadze said the UNM is ready to continue dialogue, but 
did not address the Patriarch's call for the government 
itself to take steps and ease tensions.  Later, former 
Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, in a live TV interview 
from Paris, criticized the opposition and called again for 
President Saakashvili's peaceful ouster.  End Summary. 
 
Patriarch Appeals to End Hunger Strike 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) On March 20, the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox 
Church, Ilia II, called on the UNC and NR to end their hunger 
strike, now in its twelfth day.  Ilia II said the strike had 
"moved to a stage threatening to human life, which is 
non-Christian."  He also said the authorities were "looking 
for a way out of the current situation, something that can 
only be done through agreement between all sides."  Ilia II 
appealed to both sides to "remember that, based on state 
interests, making compromise is an attribute of the strong; 
it does not mean weakness or stepping back." 
 
3. (U) In the evening of March 20, UNC leaders and NR 
Chairman David Gamkrelidze met with Ilia II at his residence 
to explain their reasons for launching the hunger strike. 
The opposition leaders unanimously signed and presented a 
"compromise proposal" to Parliamentary Speaker Nino 
Burjanadze, following the meeting.  The proposal agreed to 
drop all other opposition demands if the UNM would agree to 
elect 75 majoritarian seats in Parliament according to 
"regional proportional lists" rather than by single mandate 
districts.  Their proposed system would involve drawing new 
districts that would each contain a more equal number of 
voters than the current, UNM-supported system.  Votes in each 
district would be tabulated proportionately by party lists. 
UNC leader Koba Davitashvili said "we will not stop the 
hunger strike if this single demand put forth by us is not 
met, and the Patriarch will understand this decision of ours." 
 
Burjanadze Refuses "Ultimatum" 
------------------------------ 
 
4. (SBU) Later in the evening on live TV, a tense Burjanadze 
refused the proposal as an "ultimatum, and totally 
unacceptable."  Burjanadze thanked the Patriarch "for 
expressing his care and calling upon our opponents to end 
their hunger strike."  She then criticized the opposition for 
not "unconditionally ending the hunger strike" following the 
Patriarch's appeal.  Continuing, she said the proposal 
constituted a "political demand put forth toward the 
Patriarch himself."  Burjanadze deemed it "totally 
unacceptable to set political demands as a precondition to 
ending the hunger strike."  Burjanadze did not address the 
Patriarch's call for the government to ease tensions.  She 
merely restated that the government is "ready for political 
dialogue and many issues need to be negotiated to hold free 
and democratic elections." 
 
Okruashvili Comments on Crisis 
------------------------------ 
 
5. (U) Later still on March 20, former Defense Minister 
Irakli Okruashvili said Georgia is in "a serious political 
crisis" in a live interview on Rustavi-2 TV.  Awaiting an 
extradition hearing in Paris on April 16, Okruashvili said 
the crisis was caused by "inconsistent" actions by the 
opposition and the authorities' "tough stance."  He described 
 
TBILISI 00000496  002 OF 002 
 
 
the opposition's demands regarding the Central Election 
Commission Chairman, Burjanadze's resignation, and 
more-or-less seats in Parliament as meaningless.  Rather, 
Okruashvili said the opposition should focus on maintaining 
freedom of speech and demanding the restoration of Imedi TV. 
He accused President Saakashvili's government of trying to 
appropriate Imedi TV from deceased oligarch Badri 
Patarkatsishvili's family (septel).  Okruashvili once
 again 
repeated his call for the "peaceful ouster" of President 
Saakashvili. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
6. (C) Following the Patriarch's appeal to both sides, and 
their meeting with him, the opposition's proposal could have 
provided a face-saving way out of the current standoff for 
both sides.  The proposal is similar to one put forth by the 
Republican party on March 18.  It likely would give the 
opposition a better chance in the 75 majoritarian seats than 
the existing single mandate districts.  It also would avoid 
constitutional amendments and allow representative seats for 
the separatist regions.  Burjanadze's comments were more 
terse than usual, and she appears to be under significant 
pressure from the UNM.  With no movement on either side, the 
situation remains a lose-lose proposition for both, for which 
the increasingly-detached Georgian electorate will pay the 
price.  Perhaps the return of President Saakashvili tonight 
from his successful visit to Washington will provide an 
opportunity to break the stalemate. 
PERRY

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: