TBILISI, DFWatch – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting with government and opposition that everything now depends on the Georgian people.
Georgians will vote in a parliamentary election in October and a presidential election in 2013, which could become the first competitive elections in the country’s history.
Clinton met with five opposition leaders. Three of them were from the Georgian Dream coalition, which is the major competitor to Saakashvili. She also met leader of the moderate opposition Christian Democrats and the leader of the New Rightists party.
The Georgian Dream representatives spoke about democratic processes and problems in the election period in the country, as well as the fact that the man behind Georgian Dream, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, still has not been given back his Georgian citizenship.
Manana Kobakhidze, who formally leads Georgian Dream because Ivanishvili himself is barred from politics, noted that Hillary Clinton expressed interest in why the businessman has decided not to make use of a constitutional change which would let him take part in elections using his French citizenship.
Ivanishvili has said it is unacceptable to change the constitution for one single person.
Kobakhidze says they explained this position to the Secretary of State, and also told her that he has appealed on his citizenship issue, but the court is dragging the case out for months.
“We said that after the election, when Georgian Dream gets into parliament, if Bidzina Ivanishvili isn’t a member of parliament (MP), he will be the prime minister. That’s his goal to be the prime minister and not just a simple MP,” Kobakhidze said.
Davit Usupashvili from Georgian Dream says Clinton seemed well-informed about the current situation in Georgia. He said she noted at the beginning of the meeting that freedom of the media remains a problem in the country and that there are problems with how the courts are functioning too.
The leader of the moderate Christian Democrats Giorgi Targamadze said he is convinced that most of the information was provided by the government.
“That’s why it is important to have communication with the opposition, to create an objective picture. Information received from different political subjects forms an objective picture, which should define the U.S.’s attitude towards current processes in Georgia,” Giorgi Targamadze says.
Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rightists party spoke about the necessity of having equal conditions in the election environment, and about NATO.
“It is necessary to get rid of the vagueness about NATO integration. I also spoke about perspectives of trade agreement, but the main topic was the election environment and equal conditions for each participant.”
He noted that Clinton focused on the necessity of a multiparty parliament.
After the meeting the Secretary of State said at a briefing next to President Saakashvili that the best Georgia can do for the country’s security, democracy and international reputation is to conduct free and fair elections.