09TBILISI604, GEORGIA: EUR DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH PM BAKRADZE,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI604 2009-03-26 07:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0222
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0604/01 0850709
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 260709Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1261
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000604 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: EUR DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH PM BAKRADZE, 
MINISTER SHASHKIN ON MARCH 13, 14 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  EUR DAS Matt Bryza met with Speaker of 
Parliament David Bakradze and discussed the future of the 
UNOMIG, OSCE, and EUMM monitoring missions as well as 
domestic politics.  Minister of  Corrections and Legal 
Assistance Dimitri Shashkin explained his vision for 
revamping the penal system as well as his role as the point 
man in the GOG to facilitate democratic reform.  End Summary. 
 
PM Bakradze on Monitoring Missions and U.S. - Russian 
Relations 
 
2.  (C)  Bakradze said that as a baseline, no monitoring 
missions in Georgia are preferable to compromises that would 
serve to give South Ossetia and Abkhazia some sort of 
recognition as independent entities.  Bakradze said he 
thought the Greeks put forth a stronger effort than he 
expected as OSCE chair-in-office, but the Russians would 
never agree to any realistic compromise to continue the OSCE 
mission to Georgia.  Bakradze hoped that OSCE members would 
make clear that the Russians were solely to blame for killing 
the OSCE mission in Georgia, given Georgia,s continuing 
support for "status neutral" proposals of Greece (and Finland 
in December).  The Speaker said that with respect to 
Abkhazia, any workable solution would have to 
internationalize the police and security situation in the 
breakaway region which he described as "getting out of 
control."  Bakradze expressed his fear that the EU would cave 
to Russian pressure on monitoring issues and that without a 
workable UN mandate in Abkhazia, the situation could explode. 
 
3.  (C)  Bakradze was not concerned about the reset in 
relations between the U.S. and Russia.  DAS Bryza recounted 
Secretary Clinton,s statement that any reset did not change 
U.S. policy towards Georgia, namely, U.S. opposition to 
Russian mistreatment of its neighbors and attempts to 
dominate energy export routes to Europe.  Bakradze mentioned 
that he was very pleased with public comments by both 
Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden regarding Georgia 
and unwavering U.S. support for Georgia,s territorial 
integrity.  Nevertheless, Bakradze was skeptical as to how 
much the Russians would reset their relationship to work 
constructively or in good faith with the United States 
regarding either Georgia or Iran.  The Speaker believed that 
the Russians were starting to regret their decision to occupy 
and recognize the breakaway regions.  In Bakradze,s opinion, 
the Russians would try desperately to "legalize" their 
occupation, and he urged the U.S. to continue to work to deny 
the Russians occupation any international legitimacy. 
 
Bakradze - Ready to Work with Opposition but Fears the Worst 
 
4.  (C)  Bakradze opened the discussion on the domestic 
political scene by requesting that U.S. representatives treat 
former UN Ambassador and current opposition leader, Irakli 
Alasania in the same manner as other opposition leaders. 
Bakradze explained that Alasania (and his camp) had been 
using access to U.S. officials as a way to initiate rumors 
suggesting the U.S. supports the overthrow of Saakashvili and 
would like to install Alasania as president.  Bakradze said 
that he understood these rumors were absurd, but said they 
were nonetheless widely believed.  (Reftel)  Bakradze said he 
regarded Alasania as a friend and respected him a great deal 
but thought that Alasania had a lot to learn as a politician 
and had been making dubious political decisions, namely 
joining David Gamkrelidze (New Rights) and David 
Usupashvili,s (Republicans) parties.  He questioned whether 
QUsupashvili,s (Republicans) parties.  He questioned whether 
Alasania could salvage his political reputation if he makes 
the short-term decision to support the demnds of the most 
radical members of the non-parliamentary opposition. 
 
5.  (C)  Bakradze said that Nino Burjanadze had become 
unexpectedly radical.  Bakradze was disappointed that 
virtually no non-parliamentary groups joined the election 
legislation working group.  He added that he expected no 
further progress with the increasingly radical non-opposition 
until after the April 9 protests.  Bakradze said that he 
would always leave the door open should anybody change their 
minds, but he did not sound optimistic about the path of the 
non-parliamentary opposition.  Bakradze felt that many among 
the non-parliamentary opposition only wanted confrontation 
and were looking for ways to provoke violence.  (Embassy 
Note:  A similar feeling is prevalent among the parliamentary 
opposition, and Alasania himself shared the Speaker's view. 
End Note.).  Bakradze said the problem was not peaceful 
people in the street, and that the GOG welcomed the prospect 
of large numbers of peaceful protestors voicing their views. 
Rather, he feared potential violence that could be stoked by 
a few provocateurs in the crowd, which could force the GOG to 
react to a mob storming Parliament or the Presidential 
Administration. 
 
TBILISI 00000604  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
6.
 (C)  Bakradze said that neither he nor President 
Saakashvili would resign their offices no matter how many 
protestors gathered in the street.  Bakradze said he 
understood that a number of reasonable people were 
dissatisfied with the GOG, but he did not sense a similar 
feeling of acute anger in the air as he did in November 2007. 
 Bakradze said he thought the non-parliamentary opposition 
felt the same way, making Bakradze more fearful that certain 
protestors would try to spark anger by provoking a GOG 
crackdown.  Bakradze indicated that the GOG knew this and 
would not respond like it had in the past.  Lastly, Bakradze 
said that a recent internal UNM poll showed Saakashvili,s 
rating at 45 percent positive versus 39 percent negative. 
Bakradze said support for UNM members and the GOG had dropped 
somewhat, but the only opposition figure that received any 
substantial support was Christian Democratic Leader Giorgi 
Targamadze. 
 
Dmitri Shashkin On Reforms 
 
7.  (C)  Former IRI Chief of Party and current Minister of 
Corrections and Legal Assistance Shashkin stated that the GOG 
viewed the media; private property rights; judicial system; 
and the penal system as the four areas in which to focus its 
reform efforts.  On the media, Shashkin said that he was 
working with NGOs to develop objective criteria to evaluate 
progress or lack thereof concerning media freedom (septel). 
Shaskin stated that probation reform was a priority and 
explained that his ministry did not have an accurate list to 
track those on probation.  Shaskin mentioned improving health 
care for the incarcerated and living conditions among his 
other key priorities, with the Ministry of Health reluctant 
to take on this responsibility. 
 
8.  (C)  On larger political issues, Shashkin said that the 
GOG had formed a task force to work through scenarios to plan 
a coordinated response to the April 9 protests.  He said that 
the GOG planned a hands off, non confrontational approach as 
much as reasonably possible.  Having painted themselves into 
a corner, Shashkin feared that the non-parliamentary 
opposition would try to provoke violence.  Shaskin said he 
was trying to engage non-parliamentary leaders to find a 
constructive and face saving way out.  Shashkin said that 
unfortunately, many non-parliamentary leaders had staked 
everything on April 9, so he was not optimistic that his 
efforts would be fruitful.  Shashkin stressed that the GOG 
would seek to avoid violence at all costs.  He noted that the 
special prison forces under his command were perhaps the most 
effective crowd control personnel in Georgia.  For precisely 
this reason, Shahskin planned to keep them off the streets on 
April 9.  "These guys know and want to do only one thing beat 
people.  We will therefore keep them away from the 
protestors." 
TEFFT

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