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Nine-Party Presidential Hopeful Lays Out Key Priorities
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Dec.'07 / 18:21

Levan Gachechiladze, an independent lawmaker nominated as a presidential candidate by the nine-party opposition coalition, unveiled, what he called, “major principles” of his election program at a presentation on December 3.

“Within a week I will present a comprehensive program – 200 steps, or 200 days – outlining my plan in detail, what I intend to do as the last president of this country. This plan will be based on principles which I will present now,” he said.

Scrapping the presidency and creating a parliamentary system, with a constitutional monarchy as a possible option, would be a major goal, MP Gachechiladze said. He did not go into further details on his constitutional monarchy idea, saying only that “there are various models within the parliamentary system.”

“The presidency for me in itself is not a goal,” he said. “Our goal is to create conditions that would prevent the usurpation of power by one person, or a narrow circle of people. The January 5 elections are only one stage for the achievement of this goal. On January 5 we should set Georgia free of Mikheil Saakashvili and his corrupt circle.”

Gachechiladze said his and the nine-party opposition coalition’s goal was “a European-style democratic and wealthy state based on national traditions and values.”

He said that granting special status for the Georgian Orthodox Church would be a priority. “Georgia which is Georgian, and neither American nor Russian, and which aspires to European-style statehood is the priority. I am making a special focus on ‘the Georgian approach’ in my program and that is why I think that our Church’s special status is very important,” Gachechiladze said. He did not, however, outline what this “special status” would entail. 

The state and the Georgian Orthodox Church signed a concordat, enshrined in the constitution, in 2002, giving the Church privileges over other religious groups.

Gachechiladze also said that Georgia was a multi-ethnic country, wherein tolerance and respect of minorities should be prioritised.

In terms of economic policy, Gachechiladze said his priority would be to boost small and medium sized businesses and “support local production.”

In a bullet point presentation of Gachechiladze’s priorities, one of the principles also reads: “Return of illegally sold national wealth.” He has also pledged to increase the minimum pension to subsistence level.

He has pledged to set up an independent arbitration system to help resolve disputes between businesses and the state and to create an independent anti-monopoly agency.

In foreign policy issues, Gachechiladze said Georgian membership of NATO and the European Union was his “preference and ambition.” He added, however, that Saakashvili’s “unprincipled and incorrect” policy towards Russia should be changed in order to normalize ties with Moscow. This, he said, however, must be based on Georgia’s national interests.

He also said that Georgia should undertake measures aimed at “the legal recognition of Russia as a side” in the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts.

Gachechiladze has also vowed to immediately begin the process of Georgian withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Independent States.

He said that “the key to conflict resolution” was not in Moscow or Washington, but in Georgia itself. Conflicts should be resolved through peaceful means, he said, with the launch of special programs for civil and economic integration.

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