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Authorities Say Some Opposition Demands Negotiable
/ 30 Jan.'08 / 20:48
Civil Georgia

Some of the demands put forth by the opposition are unacceptable, while others are negotiable, President Saakashvili said on January 30.

Speaking to regional journalists, Saakashvili, whom the opposition describes as “the self-imposed ‘President',” failed to say what was and what wasn't negotiable.

He did, however, say: “We cannot meet the demands which will return us to the past. We will certainly meet those demands which are concentrated on the future.” "The past," for Saakashvili, apparently means an opposition demand for a re-count of the January 5 presidential election.

Twelve opposition parties signed a joint memorandum on January 29, in which 17 demands were made. Protest rallies, starting from February 15, have been threatened if the demands are not met.

“There are demands which we can agree on, but there are also demands which will bring us to a deadlock and which are not serious,” Saakashvili said.

He said that he had asked Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze, “who has huge experience, patience and a sense of understanding” to engage in dialogue with the opposition.

“She has my full backing to talk with them, to hold consultations, to agree or not to agree, or to postpone [discussion of] certain issues for the future,” Saakashvili said. The opposition’s memorandum is addressed to the parliamentary chairperson, as they refuse to negotiate with Saakashvili.

He also indicated that the language of ultimatum would not work and called on the opposition to tone down their rhetoric.

“Speaking loudly with me and my friends will not help us to better understand something,” Saakashvili said. “We will understand much better if we are told in a calm and constructive manner in the language of cooperation.”

Meanwhile, Burjanadze also said on January 30 that it would be possible to agree “on a number of issues” with the opposition.

“But there are some issues which we are not even considering,” Burjanadze said, without specifying. “We will continue discussing the details of the issues already agreed on in general.” The opposition and the authorities have already agreed to compose a new board of trustees of the public TV by mutual agreement. The opposition also wants the general director of the public TV to be appointed by concensus.

Levan Bezhashvili, a lawmaker from the ruling party and chairman of the parliamentary committee for legal issues, told Civil.Ge on January 30 that the authorities were ready to accept an opposition demand for a constitutional amendment stipulating that the cabinet resign automatically after parliamentary elections. Currently, in accordance with the constitution, the cabinet has to resign only after a presidential election.

MP Bezhashvili, however, rejected calls by the opposition for the resignation of Vano Merabishvili, the interior minister, saying it was unacceptable.

Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani said on January 30 that the ruling party needed first to discuss internally the opposition memorandum. “I think we will be ready to give our position in the next few days,” he said.

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