Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saakashvili Calls for Dialogue Ahead of Opposition’s Rally

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 May.'08 / 21:30

President Saakashvili has called on opponents for “a dialogue and unity” and said he hoped the country’s interests would prevail over personal ambitions for everyone.

Saakashvili was speaking in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi, where he attended the Sunday sermon of Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II – a day before the opposition’s planned protest rally to challenge the election results, which it says were falsified. Labor Party, Christian-Democratic Party and Republican Party have said they would join the rally called by the nine-party opposition bloc, which said it would boycott the new parliament.

Several newly elected lawmakers from the ruling party accompanied President Saakashvili in the Holy Trinity Cathedral at the Patriarch’s sermon.

“Georgia is a special country, which managed to pass an extremely difficult test, which made our friends happy and frustrated our ill-wishers,” Saakashvili said. “But the major test is still ahead. Our major goal is to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity and build the strong society. I call on everyone for unity and dialogue. We believe that welfare of society, Georgia’s freedom, future of the country, unity and the will to defeat our enemies will prevail over personal ambitions and regrets for everyone. We are ready to reach out our hands to everyone.”

He also said that he fully agreed with the words of the Patriarch, who called in his sermon for unity and also said: “We should all listen to each other.”

Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights Party – part of the nine-party opposition bloc – claimed earlier on May 25 that the authorities tried to use the Georgian Orthodox Church’s influence to convince the opposition not to boycott the new parliament.

“I want to call on the authorities and warn them not to try to involve the Patriarch and our Mother Church; involving him [the Patriarch] in the political process is immoral,” Gamkrelidze said. “We also request the Patriarch not get involved in this process and not to take a role of mediator.”

Later on May 25 President Saakashvili said that at a meeting with representative of the Georgian community in France, Otar Zourabichvili, that the election results demonstrated the Georgian people’s wisdom.

“Despite four years of painful reforms the reformist force has again won a landslide victory and received almost the same level of support as it was four years ago [when the ruling party received 66.24%]. This is an expression of the Georgian people’s wisdom,” he said.

He also said that “good elections” were of crucial importance for the country’s security, because, he alleged, there were “some people” including in the western European states who thought if the elections would have been “bad” that would be a good justification for their refusal “to protect us from aggressive moves of our neighbor.”

“I think these people have been disappointed most of all, because practically all impartial observers and governments have assessed these elections as good and progress,” Saakashvili said.



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