08TBILISI910, DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH TARGAMADZE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI910 2008-05-30 14:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7270
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0910/01 1511427
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301427Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9534
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000910 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/30/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH TARGAMADZE 
 
REF: TBILISI 569 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: On May 12, EUR DAS Matthew Bryza and the 
Ambassador met with Chairman of the new opposition Christian 
Democratic Movement (CDM) party, Giorgi Targamadze.  Before 
the meeting, Targamadze briefed the Ambassador on Imedi TV's 
current status, saying that a dispute regarding government 
control over editorial policy will likely preclude any news 
coverage until September.  He said the CDM has established 
offices throughout most of Georgia and is putting the 
knowledge gained from USAID-funded IRI focus groups to good 
use in building his campaign.  Targamadze discussed his 
party's platform and goals, and said the CDM may result as 
the largest opposition faction after the election.  He said 
U.S. support would be critical to ensure democratic reforms 
in Parliament after May 21.  DAS Bryza underlined the 
seriousness of the ongoing dispute with Russia over Abkhazia, 
and discussed how a new forum is needed for the Georgians and 
Abkhaz to meet without Russian influence.  End summary. 
 
Background Note 
--------------- 
 
2. (SBU) Targamadze is the former MP who headed 
deposed-Adjaran warlord, Aslan Abashidze's faction in 
Parliament prior to 2004.  Most recently, Targamadze was the 
lead anchor and director of news programming for Imedi TV. 
He had a key media role in the November protests and was then 
seen as a strong opponent of the Saakashvili government. 
Targamadze and several other leading journalists quit the 
station in December after the GOG aired footage of deceased 
Imedi owner Badri Patarkatsishvili attempting to co-opt an 
MOIA official and foment an insurrection against President 
Saakashvili.  Following this, Targamadze created the 
Christian-Democratic Movement party, modeled on European 
Christian-Democratic parties but with a strong populist and 
latent nationalist streak, and heads its party list for the 
May 21 parliamentary elections.  Current Greenberg Quinlan 
Rosner Research polls project the CDM is likely to win 
approximately 11 percent of the nationwide, party list vote, 
which would be enough to create a faction in Parliament. 
 
Brief Update on Imedi 
--------------------- 
 
3. (C) On May 12, EUR DAS Matthew Bryza, the Ambassador, and 
EUR/CARC Conflicts Advisor Michael Carpenter met with CDM 
Chairman, Giorgi Targamadze, and CDM International Secretary, 
George Rukhadze.  In a prelude to the meeting, Targamadze 
told the Ambassador an ongoing dispute over editorial policy 
will likely preclude Imedi TV from covering any news until 
September.  He acknowledged that Patarkatsishvili and Joseph 
Kay had a close working relationship, but claimed that the 
GOG influenced Joseph Kay's acquisition of Imedi (reftel) and 
will also control Imedi's editorial policy.  He said he 
understands that Patarkatsishvili's family continues to 
dispute Kay's claim to ownership of Imedi.  Targamadze said 
that he, fellow Imedi employees, and the Patriarch of the 
Georgian Orthodox Church, talked Patarkatsishvili out of 
trading Imedi to the government for the Georgian railroad 
last fall.  Targamadze said Boris Berezovsky "played a bad 
role" in the process and radicalized Patarkatsishvili, 
convincing him to run for President against 
Patarkatsishvili's own wishes.  Targamadze said that at the 
height of the confrontation, "both sides tried to co-opt us." 
 Now, he said he is trying to preserve "freedom of speech" 
with his CDM campaign, as he tried to do as a news anchor at 
Imedi. 
 
CDM Campaign Underway 
--------------------- 
 
4. (C) Targamadze thanked the U.S. for providing USAID-funded 
IRI focus groups to help his party prepare its campaign.  He 
said they were very useful, as the CDM had no money to 
conduct any research itself.  He said the CDM has established 
offices throughout most of Georgia, including the minority 
regions, and is campaigning throughout the country. 
Targamadze said he is focusing his efforts on reaching out to 
people, explaining that Western values are trying to help 
Georgians form a democratic society, and working to help make 
people's lives better after the election.  Targamadze said 
economic problems are the population's biggest concern.  In 
addition to these, his party is working on proposals to 
address social and demographic problems, constitutional 
changes, a law on religion, and ideas for agricultural 
reform. 
 
5. (C) Targamadze denounced the current political process as 
 
TBILISI 00000910  002 OF 002 
 
 
unfair.  He said businesses are afraid to donate to his 
campaign, which has hurt his party.  He noted that media 
coverage is better than during the January election, but 
rules granting the opposition equal air time do not apply to 
political talk shows, which are a major source of voters' 
information about the political process.  Targamadze said the 
CDM has tried to avoid clashes with other political parties, 
including the ruling United National Movement.  He said the 
campaign has become "not a game of rule
s, but of life and 
death."  He said "we are not afraid of competition, but we 
need rules of the game."  According to Targamadze, the U.S. 
needs to help ensure this fairness during the campaign, as 
well as support democratic reforms in Parliament and help 
build western-style political parties after May 21. 
Targamadze foresees a split in the Joint Opposition after the 
election, and believes the CDM may become the largest 
opposition faction in Parliament.  He told DAS Bryza that 
room indeed exists in the center between pro- and 
anti-Saakashvili camps, and he is trying to attract the 
disaffected voters in this space.  He said many New Rightists 
voters now support him, because New Rightists leader Davit 
Gamkrelidze joined the United Opposition. 
 
DAS Bryza Talks about Abkhazia 
------------------------------ 
 
6. (C) After noting additional USG assistance dedicated to 
improving the election process, DAS Bryza turned to Abkhazia. 
 He underlined the seriousness of the current tension 
surrounding Abkhazia.  He told Targamadze that it appears 
Putin has tried to create a win-win for himself by ratcheting 
up the tension with Georgia over the breakaway region.  Bryza 
said if Georgia fails to propose any new initiatives and 
allows Abkhazia to drift further into the Russian orbit, it 
loses and Russia wins.  If Georgia tries to retake Abkhazia 
by force, it suffers an even more devastating loss and Russia 
wins.  Given the current situation, a fresh approach is 
needed.  Bryza said the UN Group of Friends is not working 
and a new forum is needed to breath new life into the peace 
process. 
 
7. (C) Bryza said such a forum must address three key issues: 
 1) the return of IDPs; 2) the need to provide Abkhazia a 
sense of security that Georgia will not attack (and that the 
return of IDPs will not threaten Abkhaz national identity); 
and 3) economic development of Abkhazia through reintegration 
with Georgia proper.  Bryza told Targamadze that he had 
spoken with the UN, Europeans, and the Abkhaz about these 
issues.  Bryza said UNOMIG is beneficial to the people in 
Gali, so the goal is not to eliminate it or do away entirely 
with the Group of Friends.  Rather, he said a new forum 
should be established organically alongside the Group of 
Friends.  The rejuvenation of the peace process would 
therefore consist of three components:  1) the elaboration of 
Georgia's peace initiatives through direct talks with the 
Abkhaz, to specify the constitutional guarantees for Abkhaz 
autonomy; 2) restraining Russia politically (with 
international partners) to prevent further infringement on 
Georgia's sovereignty; and 3) building the new international 
forum from the ground up, so that Georgians and Abkhaz can 
meet without a Russian veto. 
 
8. (C) Targamadze thanked DAS Bryza for the information and 
agreed that he and his party could and would fully support 
such a proposal.  He noted that the CDM has been calling on 
the government to avoid any drift towards armed conflict.  He 
also said Georgia should avoid signing any agreements with 
Russia over the conflict regions, as Russia had not met its 
previous obligations under peace deals in the 1990s. 
Targamadze said that Georgia must work with its western 
friends in regard to the conflict regions, or else disaster 
would ensue.  He said that his party currently does not trust 
the government, and therefore does not speak with them, but 
reiterated his support for Bryza's peace plan. 
 
9. (U) DAS Bryza has cleared this cable. 
TEFFT

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