09TBILISI657, GEORGIA: PATRIARCH CALLS FOR CALM AHEAD OF APRIL 9

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI657 2009-04-02 09:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7378
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0657 0920926
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 020926Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1304
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000657 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/01/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KIRF RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PATRIARCH CALLS FOR CALM AHEAD OF APRIL 9 
PROTESTS 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4(B) AND (D). 
 
 1. (C) Summary.  In an April 1 meeting, Georgian Orthodox 
Patriarch Ilia II expressed concern to the Ambassador that 
the approaching April 9 opposition protests could escalate 
into violence.  The Patriarch said that President Saakashvili 
and nearly all the opposition leaders, including Alasania, 
had sought his advice.  He told them that they should refrain 
from attacking each other verbally and physically, and to 
seek dialogue.  The Patriarch made urging the government and 
the opposition to shun violence the focus of his March 29 
sermon, noting that the domestic political situation was 
"reaching a critical threshold."  The Patriarch himself was 
concerned that the Russians could use the protests as a means 
to foment disorder.  Ilia II said that discussions were 
underway regarding a proposed meeting with his Russian 
counterpart in Sochi soon in order to bring the Georgian and 
Russian sides closer together.  The Patriarch also mentioned 
that he will travel to Strasbourg in upcoming months to seek 
support from the EU for Georgia, and that he had been invited 
to Iran.  End Summary. 
 
April 9 Protests 
 
2.  (C)  Ilia II spent an hour with the Ambassador discussing 
his concerns about the April 9 protests.  He said that 
President Saakashvili had met with him, and nearly every 
major opposition leader, including Irakli Alasania, had asked 
for his guidance.  The Ambassador told the Patriarch that he 
is concerned that people who follow events in Georgia from 
the United States and Europe are tiring of the constant 
Georgian political infighting.  Some may lose interest if it 
continues.  The Patriarch said that he was confident that 
dialogue would ultimately triumph, but wondered if this was a 
"rite of passage" that needed to be crossed before dialogue 
became an option.  Ambassador said that he had recently done 
an interview with Rustavi 2 television station in which he 
called for calm and urged all sides to work together for the 
country.  So far, the opposition "maximalists" (as the 
Patriarch called them) had turned a deaf ear.  The Patriarch 
said he thinks the United States should continue to clarify 
that it supports the institution of the Georgian president, 
and not individual personalities.  Additionally, all the 
countries who support Georgia should work to make the 
Caucasus a region of peace by continuing their partnerships. 
 
Possible Visit to Iran 
 
3.  (C)  The Patriarch said that Iran's Ambassador to Georgia 
had invited him to visit Iran.  Ilia II asked how he could 
help the United States during such a visit.  The Patriarch 
believed that Russia could be helpful with convincing the 
Iranians to abandon their nuclear ambitions. 
 
Comment 
 
4.  (C)  The Patriarch has been the voice of calm and reason 
on many tumultuous occasions in Georgia and the Ambassador 
requested this meeting after several political figures had 
suggested that only the Patriarch had a potential voice that 
might be heard by both government and opposition leaders. 
Just as he has in past meetings, the Patriarch expressed 
appreciation for the visit and said he would continue to help 
in whatever way he could to encourage dialogue between the 
political forces.  He thanked the Ambassador for his efforts 
to encourage dialogue.  During this particular visit, the 
Patriarch said he felt better after his medical treatment in 
Germany and a recent vacation by the Black Sea, but he 
appeared shaky and his voice trembled when he spoke. 
TEFFT

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