09TBILISI910, GEORGIA: SPEAKER BAKRADZE EXPLAINS POSITION ON PROTESTS TO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI910 2009-05-14 11:18 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0014
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0910 1341118
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD662B4D VSG0006 538)
R 141118Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1558
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 000910 
 
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDED ADDEE) 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SPEAKER BAKRADZE EXPLAINS POSITION ON PROTESTS TO 
CODEL DAVIS 
 
Sensitive But Unclassified, Not for Internet Distribution 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  Parliamentary Speaker David Bakradze met May 8 
with the members of Codel Davis to discuss the current political 
situation in Georgia.  Bakradze explained the GoG's plans to handle 
the ongoing protests and to implement political reforms.  End 
Summary. 
 
GoG Wants to Break Cycle of Protests 
 
2.  (SBU) Bakradze told the six visiting members of Congress that 
the GoG was allowing the protests organized by the non-parliamentary 
opposition that were blocking many downtown Tbilisi streets to 
continue for many reasons, but the overarching policy goal was to 
de-legitimize the use of street protests as the major vehicle for 
political change in Georgia.  Bakradze noted that former Presidents 
Gamsakhurdia and Shevardnadze were removed via protests and hoped 
that Georgia could break this destructive cycle.  Bakradze said that 
if Georgia is to take the next step towards becoming a western style 
democracy, it needed to solve its problems through dialogue and not 
street ultimatums. 
 
3.  (SBU) Bakradze readily acknowledged that the Rose Revolution 
began as a street protest but was quick to draw a distinction 
between Georgia under President Shevardnadze and the current 
political climate in Georgia.  Bakradze said that protests led to a 
radicalization of the political elite, and the GoG was single-minded 
in its desire to discredit the use of protests and ultimatums as an 
effective way, versus success in the electoral process, to conduct a 
political dialogue.  Bakradze said the goal was to get the 
discussions into Parliament and out of the street, noting that a 
sizable number of the protest organizers had refused their seats in 
parliament in 2008. 
 
Government Will Let the Protests Continue 
 
4.  (SBU) Bakradze said that the government was going to let the 
protests continue in order to leave no doubt that the 
non-parliamentary opposition had ample time to express their views. 
The added political benefit, according to Bakradze, was that people 
were tiring of protests and the non-parliamentary opposition was 
only serving to discredit itself as a legitimate poltical force 
with a constructive political message by continuing the now 
month-long protests. 
 
5.  (SBU) Bakradze stressed that the government recognized that the 
November 7, 2007, crackdown had been a mistake and that Georgia's 
leaders had learned valuable lessons.  He said that current GoG 
policy was to exercise maximum restraint, in part to make clear to 
its citizens and the international community that it did learn from 
the mistakes made on November 7, 2007.  When asked how long the 
protests would continue, Bakradze acknowledged that if the 
non-parliamentary opposition started to block major highways and 
ports of entry, the GoG would have to react, but that if "they want 
to sit on Rustaveli Avenue with a couple thousand people", the GoG 
had no current plans to stop them.  Bakradze expressed hope that the 
non-parliamentary opposition would engage in meaningful dialogue. 
 
GoG Prepared to Reform on its Own 
 
6.  (SBU) Bakradze outlined four major areas in which the GoG was 
willing to negotiate with the radical opposition.  Bakradze 
mentioned constitutional reform, specifically strengthening 
parliament versus the executive branch; on-going electoral reform 
(Embassy Note: the non-parliamentary opposition, save one party, has 
declined participation. End Note); local governance reform, 
including the direct election of mayors; and judiciary reform. 
Bakradze reiterated that the GoG was willing to meet without 
QBakradze reiterated that the GoG was willing to meet without 
precondition but would not consider resignation in the face of 
ultimatums. 
 
 
TEFFT

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