09TBILISI693, GEORGIA: NON PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION REJECTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI693 2009-04-08 13:14 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2544
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0693/01 0981314
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081314Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1345
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000693 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: NON PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION REJECTS 
CALLS FOR DIALOGUE 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 679 
     B. TBILISI 660 
     C. TBILISI 657 
     D. TBILISI 618 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary/Comment:  While public calls for dialogue 
increase, the non-parliamentary opposition remains adamant 
that they will only discuss the terms of President 
Saakashvili's resignation.  The Patriarch, the Ambassador, 
the EU, President Saakashvili, Christian Democrats and 
business leaders have all publicly and repeatedly called for 
dialogue, but the calls appear to be falling on deaf ears. 
By rejecting any sort of dialogue, the non-parliamentary 
opposition appears willing to hand the President the moral 
high ground politically and to gamble that a large turnout on 
April 9 will push Saakashvili and his government to make 
concessions.  With the Patriarch (considered the most 
trustworthy figure in Georgia) calling for calm and dialogue, 
the non-parliamentary opposition is taking a sizable 
political risk by rejecting talks outright and planning on 
engaging in non-stop protests.  Despite taking a tack that 
looks increasingly politically tone deaf, the 
non-parliamentary opposition is charging straight ahead.  If 
the April 9 protests do not produce regime change, the 
non-parliamentary leaders may find themselves with little 
political space in which to maneuver.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
Patriarch Speaks - People Listen 
 
2.  (C)  The recent IRI poll (March 2009) demonstrates the 
continuing powerful appeal of the Georgian Orthodox Church 
with the church getting a 91 percent favorable rating across 
Georgia.  The Patriarch, who is immensely popular and 
respected, repeated his calls for dialogue during his sermon 
on April 7, Georgia's Day of the Annunciation.  He called on 
all sides to engage in dialogue saying "I hope we'll 
understand each other and learn to listen to each other". 
This message follows his similar previous public statements 
urging the same.  While always cautious in his public 
pronouncements, the Patriarch's message is clear to Georgians 
-- that constant protests and ultimatums are not viewed 
positively by the church, echoing his more candid private 
statements to the Ambassador (ref C).  While the overall 
effect of the Patriarch's statements is unquantifiable, 
refusing to negotiate and ignoring the Patriarch's urging can 
only work to the non-parliamentary opposition's political 
detriment. 
 
Saakashvili Sees Where the Political Winds are Blowing 
 
3. (C)  Traveling in the regions, President Saakashvili 
stated on April 7, that "there is no alternative to 
dialogue," and reiterated his proposal to the 
non-parliamentary opposition that he and the GoG are willing 
and able to engage.  Saakashvili continued saying that 
"dialogue is needed with even the smallest and most radical 
groups as well, no matter how unacceptable their demands 
might be, because Georgia simply does not have an 
alternative."  Saakashvili's comments echo those of the 
Patriarch and the EU, which released a statement that in part 
read "the people of Georgia can only benefit from political 
pluralism and constructive political dialogue between the 
Government and the opposition."  Regardless of Saakashvili's 
motives, the call for dialogue appears to be a smart play 
politically and generally in line with broad popular 
sentiment. 
 
Non-Parliamentary Opposition Defiant 
 
4.  (C)  Alliance for Georgia leader Irakli Alasania called 
the President's calls for dialogue an "inadequate" reaction. 
Former Presidential Candidate Levan Gachechiladze said that 
"(d)ialogue will only take place live on air and only if 
Q"(d)ialogue will only take place live on air and only if 
Saakashvili bows to the demands of the people and resigns." 
In an April 7 briefing to the diplomatic corps and subsequent 
press conference in which most non-parliamentary leaders 
attended, a press release contained only one demand - 
Saakashvili's resignation - and ominously called on the 
international community "to refrain from any kind of 
interference during the crisis by trying to comfort the 
President."  Nino Burjanadze in a meeting with Congressmen 
John Tanner (D-TN) and Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), 
completely ruled out the idea of dialogue calling Saakashvili 
untrustworthy and anti-democratic.  Burjanadze rejected out 
of hand that President Saakashvili should be allowed to serve 
out his term in office.  Even among the non-parliamentary 
opposition, any signal that dialogue could be acceptable is 
quickly shouted down.  On Maestro TV when David Gamkrelidze 
(Alliance for Georgia) indicated that dialogue was 
theoretically possible if President Saakashvili made a number 
 
TBILISI 00000693  002 OF 002 
 
 
of major concessions (including the "return" of Imedi to 
Badri Patarkatsashvili's family and the dismissal of the 
heads of the Central Election Commission and Supreme Court), 
e was quickly interrupted by Levan Gachechiladze who said 
the non-parliamentary
opposition would never agree to any 
dialogue. 
TEFFT

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