09TBILISI503, GEORGIA: FORMER PM NOGHAIDELI PREPARING FOR A

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI503 2009-03-16 13:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0610
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0503 0751337
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161337Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1187
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000503 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: FORMER PM NOGHAIDELI PREPARING FOR A 
MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary.  Former prime minister and opposition 
politician Zurab Noghaideli told the Ambassador March 9 that 
many of Georgia's opposition politicians are incorrectly 
reading the will of the people.  He argued that the time was 
not right for changing Georgia's government and predicted 
that the protests planned for April 9 would yield few, if 
any, serious developments.  Noghaideli had a long term view 
for developing his political party starting in his home 
region of Ajara and planned to concentrate on the economic 
challenges facing Georgia.  He said he was focused on the 
"post-Misha" period.  End Summary 
 
2.  (C)  Comment.  The former prime minister seems to have a 
carefully thought out strategy for building a party and a 
platform for future elections.  He appears responsive to 
recent polling which shows the people of Georgia seek 
stability more than they want to remove the President from 
office.  Noghaideli has remained separate and apart from most 
other opposition movements and seems intent on remaining 
above the fray.  Considering his dismally low poll ratings 
upon his departure from office, Noghaideli may be developing 
political instincts that could separate him from the rest of 
the pack, although rumors of corrupt practices from his days 
in office could end up derailing his future.  Like many in 
the opposition, his disdain for President Saakashvili is 
clear -- but it does not cloud his view of how to serve 
Georgia's interests or his own.  End Comment 
 
Time Is Not Right to Remove Misha 
 
3.  (C)  Noghaideli told the Ambassador that he agreed with a 
recent statement from the Minister of Defense -- that there 
would be no military solution to Georgia's conflicts.  He 
said that it was important for Georgia's leaders to embrace 
peaceful resolution of the conflicts; he believed that fear 
of conflict, and the President himself, were deterring 
investment in Georgia.  The former prime minister believed 
that it was a matter of time until the government would be 
changed, but he thought that it would likely be 2013 
(Georgia's next scheduled presidential election).  However, 
in order for Saakashvili to survive until 2013, Noghaideli 
said the president needs to make his intent to leave clear: 
that he will not try to change the constitution or "pull a 
Putin" in order to remain in authority. 
 
It's the Economy 
 
4.  (C)  Before serving as prime minister, Noghaideli was 
Georgia's finance minister.  He is well-regarded for his 
management of the economy in the early years of Saakashvili's 
administration.  He accused current leaders of mismanaging 
Georgia's economy arguing that the budget was off b more 
than one billion GEL.  He said that the government was 
collecting early revenues -- suggesting that it will face 
additional cash shortages later this year.  He told the 
Ambassador that Georgian banks would soon face a crisis and 
believed that the government should have developed a bank 
bailout plan in 2007.  Moving to relations with Russia, 
Noghaideli believed that Georgia's options for maneuvering in 
negotiations with Russia were quite limited and he hoped they 
would take a less confrontational path.  He argued that it 
was important for Georgia to focus on the country it controls 
and "getting it off its knees." 
 
View of the other Opposition and Protests 
 
5.  (C)  Noghaideli told the Ambassador that his party would 
take part in demonstrations on April 9 in Batumi.  When asked 
about other opposition leaders, Noghaideli said that Irakli 
Alasania and Nino Burjanadze were focused on their own 
QAlasania and Nino Burjanadze were focused on their own 
political ambitions rather than Georgia's national interests. 
 In his view, they were unconcerned with any damage they 
might cause to Georgia on their paths to the presidency. 
Noghaideli said that Burjanadze was desperate -- and needed 
to take immediate action in order to boost her popularity. 
He said that he did not think Alasania was as desperate as 
Burjanadze or Levan Gachechiladze.  He described a 
significant difference between his plans and theirs -- and 
it's all about timing.  Noghaideli said he is working on his 
own timeline, not one driven by the short term deadlines like 
April 9.  He intended to build a party and a platform and 
recognized that time was needed.  Noghaideli told us he was 
prepared for a marathon and that he sought change through 
regular elections, not street action. 
TEFFT

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