09TBILISI523, GEORGIA: ELECTION LEGISLATION WORKING GROUP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI523 2009-03-19 15:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4036
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0523 0781518
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191518Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1210
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000523 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: ELECTION LEGISLATION WORKING GROUP 
SPUTTERS TO LIFE 
 
REF: TBILISI 0395 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
 1. (SBU) On March 17, 2008, seven political party 
representatives gathered at the offices of the National 
Democratic Institute (NDI) for the inaugural meeting of the 
Election Legislation Working Group (ELWG).  Poloff, USAID, 
the EU/EC, Council of Europe (COE), IFES, and the OSCE 
observed the meeting.  The group, which earlier agreed to a 
Code of Conduct (reftel), took 40 minutes to determine the 
chairmanship of the group.  Lots were drawn for the initial 
meeting.  Industrialist Zurab Tkemaladze won.  Following 
meetings will be chaired by the representatives on a rotating 
basis in alphabetical order of the representatives' names 
(Georgian).  The balance of the two hour meeting was 
dominated by intense argument over where to hold future 
meetings and how "consensus" (required to reach a decision 
under the Code of Conduct) would be defined.  After much 
disagreement among the group, it was decided the next meeting 
will take place at NDI March 20. 
 
2. (SBU) All of the participating parties, except the 
Industrialists, are represented in Parliament.  The Labor 
Party originally signed the Code of Conduct in order to 
participate in the process.  However, before the meeting took 
place, party leaders refused to participate.  Representatives 
of the parties that attended included: 
 
MP Akaki Minashvili, United National Movement (UNM) 
MP Levan Vepkhvadze, Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) 
MP Paata Davitaia, We Ourselves 
Levan Gabrichidze, We Ourselves 
MP Gia Tortladze, Democratic Party of Georgia 
MP Jondi Baghaturia, Georgian Troupe 
Giorgi Basharuli, Georgian Troupe 
Zurab Tkemaladze, Industrialists 
Bachuki Kardava, National Democratic Party (NDP) 
 
3. (C) Minashvili was adamant that the group should be able 
to meet in the Parliament.  He argued future meetings should 
not be held at NDI or any other international organization 
venue.  Tkemaladze was equally strident that the meeting 
should not be held in Parliament -- as this would preclude 
participation by the non-parliamentary opposition. 
Baghaturia reasoned that this was accurate, and said it is 
unnecessary to give the non-parliamentary opposition such an 
excuse to not participate.  Tkemaladze disingenuously claimed 
he did not know the Speaker of Parliament was pushing the 
ELWG, and said he believed the entire ELWG was an NDI 
initiative and NDI would mediate the sessions.  (Note: This 
position was clearly debunked with all parties prior to 
signing the Code of Conduct.  End note.)  Unable to forge a 
consensus on future venues -- although most representatives 
supported allowing the rotating chairman to determine it -- 
the group agreed to meet at NDI on March 20. 
 
4. (C) The group argued heatedly over how they would reach 
decisions on the election code.  Again, Tkemaladze argued 
that they should use a "consensus-minus one" or two-thirds 
vote, to overcome UNM "obstruction."  Others, including 
Minashvili, argued that the group had already agreed under 
the Code of Conduct that they should reach consensus among 
all parties.  Minashvili rationalized that yes, the UNM could 
pass any legislation they want in the Parliament with their 
overwhelming majority, but that they are participating in 
good faith and he is representing his party in a quest for 
overall agreement on the election code.  A final decision was 
not reached. 
 
5. (C) Comment: The lack of imaginative alternative 
suggestions and volume of disagreement among the group was 
predictable.  Minashvili's resistance to having international 
Qpredictable.  Minashvili's resistance to having international 
organizations' leadership in the ELWG was surprising only 
because he did not suggest any neutral venues other than 
Parliament.  International observers kew there would be 
intense disagreement on some issues and NDI's Chief of Party 
suggested to the group that the ELWG should expect such 
arguments and difficulties.  We expect future meetings will 
see more intense disagreement and progress will likely come 
in fits and starts; should any of the more radical 
non-parliamentary opposition parties decide to participate, 
consensus will undoubtedly become even more difficult to 
achieve.  On the positive side, although this was a painful 
start, it was a start nonetheless.  End comment. 
TEFFT

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