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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI168 2009-01-30 14:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0168/01 0301427
O 301427Z JAN 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000168 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
1. (C)  Summary/Comment:  The non-parliamentary opposition 
announced and distributed its Declaration of Political 
Parties and Civil Society Organizations of Georgia 
(Declaration) which calls for President Saakashvili's 
resignation; early presidential and parliamentary elections; 
and the establishment of conditions for conducting free and 
fair elections.  Nineteen non-parliamentary leaders and ten 
civil society leaders, including former Speaker Nino 
Burjanadze, signed the Declaration.  Notably absent from 
signing were former Georgian Ambassador to the UN Irakli 
Alasania, and former Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli; 
however, according to the press, both "agreed" in principle 
with the document (although Noghaideli is on record as 
opposing new elections now).  The Declaration leaves 
unanswered what policies the group would pursue; whether 
parliamentary or presidential elections would come first and 
how either could be accomplished in a constitutional 
framework; and how "free and fair" election conditions would 
be established.  The Declaration drew substantial media 
coverage, but has drawn little notice from the public.  In 
our view, the Declaration amounts to a codification of the 
non-parliamentary opposition's previous demands and 
reinforces the view that about the only issue they can agree 
on is their strong dislike of President Saakashvili.  For the 
most part, this Declaration which was to explain the 
non-parliamentary agenda in detail and unite democratic 
forces failed to deliver a coordinated, coherent plan.  End 
Declaration Announced - Non-Parliamentary Opposition Ratchets 
Up the Rhetoric 
2.  (SBU)   The Declaration was announced on January 29 in 
the Tbilisi Marriott to widespread media coverage.  Imedi, 
Rustavi, and Georgian Public Broadcasting showed clips of the 
signing and interviews with various opposition leaders.  The 
weekly English language, Georgia Today had a front page photo 
and caption.  Virtually every Georgian newspaper had at least 
a mention of the Declaration on the front page.  David 
Gamkrelidze (New Rights), Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's 
Way), and Eka Beselia (Movement for a United Georgia, aka 
Okruashvili's party) were quoted extensively.  Gamkrelidze 
stated that "(t)oday one demand, one goal unites us - to get 
rid of Saakashvili".  Gamkrelidze continued saying that 
"(t)hose who do not share our position will automatically be 
enlisted to the governmental team.  There is a certain 
watershed, demarcation lines between the real opposition and 
the rest of the political forces."  Zourabichvili added that 
"Saakashvili should resign and there is no longer any other 
issue.  If we do not achieve this no other issues will be 
important because the country will no longer exist." 
3.  (C)  The Declaration states that Saakashvili's 
lawlessness and violence have driven Georgia to catastrophe, 
and that each day he remains in power generates additional 
problems for Georgia.  It continues with the aforementioned 
demands and says that it is a civic duty to immediately 
effect regime change by constitutional means.  The 
Declaration calls on the public to secure free and democratic 
development and unification.  What is does not say is what 
would constitute "constitutional" means or any legal 
justification for holding new elections or demanding the 
resignation of Saakashvili.  Thea Gogvadze-Apfel, a 
Burjanadze confidante, told Poloff that the Declaration, a 
subject of discussion among the non-parliamentary opposition 
Qsubject of discussion among the non-parliamentary opposition 
for a period of months, represents the only level at which 
the non-parliamentary opposition could agree.  The harsh 
rhetoric is also a clear call to fence sitters such as 
Alasania, and Noghaideli that their equivocation is 
increasingly irritating to the non-parliamentary crowd. 
Opposition's Unity Moment Quickly Inundated by Reality 
4.  (C)  The "unity" among non-parliamentary forces looks 
thin, since they spent three months coalescing around a 
document of minimalist non-parliamentary demands.  In a 
moment of clarity, Shalva Natelashvili (Labor Party leader) 
said "I agree with the principles of the memorandum but I am 
not signing it.  I mean how many times can we sign one and 
the same thing?  We've been doing this since 2003." 
Natelashvili went on to blast other non-parliamentary figures 
saying "(i)t is unacceptable for me to sign the declaration, 
as by signing it other opposition leaders may make me stand 
next to Burjanadze or Noghaideli."  Irakli Melashvili 
(National Forum) said he did not sign the document because 
the non-parliamentary opposition has no idea as to how it is 
going to enforce its demands.  Melashvili said "(w)e have 
asked the opposition parties what they will do if Saakashvili 
holds a new election.  We have not received a clear answer 
and that's why we have refused o sign this document." 
TBILISI 00000168  002 OF 002 
Parliamentary opposition MP Gia Tsagareishvili (Democratic &#x000A
;Party of Georgia) said opposition MPs were not consulted.  He 
continued saying "(i)f somebody does not want to see my face, 
I am not interested in them.  I am not going to go somewhere 
to see them.  Let them come, talk to us, tell us what they 
want and we will answer them." 
5.  (C) Far from uniting the non-parliamentary opposition, 
the Declaration only reinforces how disparate the 
non-parliamentary group is.  Nino Burjanadze did not attend 
the signing preferring to travel to Davos, Switzerland for 
meetings.  Alasania expressed his general agreement with the 
Declaration but refused to sign, prompting editorial pages 
and non-parliamentary leaders alike to question where his 
loyalties lie.  In fact, the non-parliamentary opposition 
could not agree on whether or when to hold protests. 
Protests may be held in the spring but it remains unclear 
which parties will participate.  Natelashvili, whose Labor 
Party formed a bulk of the protesters in November 2007, has 
said he would not protest for the benefit of former GOG 
officials such as Burjanadze, Alasania, and Noghaideli.  At 
the end of the day, the Declaration creates more questions 
than it answers. 
6.  (C)  Parliamentary Speaker David Bakradze lamented the 
radicalization of political discourse.  He was quoted as 
saying "(u)nfortunately, part of the opposition sticks with a 
radical stance.  I think that instead of further 
radicalization, the population today needs to see the 
cooperation of different parties on vital issues, such as 
overcoming the economic crisis and ensuring security in the 
country."  Bakradze also pointed out the inherent 
contradiction in the non-parliamentary opposition demands, 
questioning how one can call for both the reform of the 
election code and immediate elections at the same time. 
While the non-parliamentary opposition will continue to be a 
thorn in the Government's side, the recent Declaration does 
not suggest the non-parliamentary has found a way to pose a 
true threat to Saakashvili or the UNM. 


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