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Nino Burjanadze’s Open Letter to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 24 Oct.'08 / 18:11

Mr. President

In 2003, we, the three political leaders [Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze], have assumed the responsibility for political future of our country. The success and unprecedented support both within the country and internationally was based on the unity, as well as on the promise to struggle for the dignified and democratic development of our people and our country. During these years I had remained devoted to this promise, which we gave to each other and to the Georgian people.

You know very well that I wanted to quit the team several times because of disagreements with you and your political team. I knew that it would have been better for my personal political career to distance myself from those decisions which not only did I disagree with but also strongly opposed. I know that my disagreements expressed only within the team and not publicly damaged my political authority inside the country. But, on the one hand [by remaining in the Saakashvili political team], I was devoted to our joint responsibility that was demanded by the society when it was expressing confidence to us and on the other hand, by this, I was changing many incorrect decisions and protecting the country against additional mistakes and threats.

I thought that November 7 would have been a bitter lesson for the authorities. Unfortunately, it became obvious that the authorities have failed to learn anything from November 7 and they only started to make superficial, façade changes. The will of Georgian people was still neglected. Continuation of a revolutionary style of governance was unacceptable for me. Principle disagreements between us about the style of governance and decision-making process made it impossible to remain together in the same political team and as a result I quit.

The 2008 August tragedy has put us in face of new, gravest reality. From now on, even one minor wrong step can turn fatal for the country.

Today our state is entering the phase of the most difficult political crisis:

Lost war, followed by senseless and cynical propagandistic response by the authorities;
Unprecedented control over the media and business, aimed at maintaining power;
In fact one-party parliament, fictional parliament;
Judiciary dependent on the instructions from the executive authorities;

All this makes the country more unprepared and vulnerable in the face of increased external threats and our joint enemy. The only guarantee to ensure security in the country is not façade, but real democracy and correct, reasonable policy. Therefore, I call on you at least now to take not illusive and defensive steps, but those, which will be oriented towards positive results for the country.

The situation, in which the Georgian TV stations are today, is unacceptable for the Georgian society; such situation indicates that the authorities are politically incapable and are scared of the truth. It is a shame that we have to speak about freedom of media on the fifth anniversary of the Rose Revolution and by that you have betrayed the hundreds of thousands of people, who stood beside you in November [2003] to protect that very same value.

Control of media outlets should be over unconditionally!

It needs a concrete decision rather than your words!

The present parliament is unacceptable – fiction body, where the emergence of dissenting opinion and an alternative way of decision-making is actually impossible. I was warning you not to create such an election system and election reality, at least ahead of the elections, which would have brought such a result. That very absence of alternative opinion was the cause for your mistakes on which the public now wants answers. That very absence of alternative [opinion] made you think that only a few people know what is right for the country.

The war has been lost and each Georgian, our generation will have to acknowledge, think over and improve its historical burden; but, first and foremost, this is the government’s responsibility. When a person, and moreover a governor, cannot admit his failure, it brings new difficulties. The government should be brave enough to admit its mistake. Only in such case it will be possible to plan new policy rationally and unite the society around it. 

Georgian people have never united around the lie!

Today, when the country still faces the threat of destabilization and when there is an urgent need to overcome the crisis, I have a strong reason to believe that the authorities are not capable of averting another provocation. This opinion is strengthened by unanswered questions concerning the August events, by the fact that the Georgian government’s structure and mentality has remained the same as it was before the August war.

Under current reality, owing to the government’s mistakes or inadequate moves, Russia received even more than it could have imagined several years ago: strengthened influence in our region, influence over Abkhazia and South Ossetia (including Akhalgori and Kodori), instead of 1,500 so called peacekeepers, several thousands of army soldiers, new borders, new military bases, postponement of Georgia’s NATO membership prospects for several years, questioning the Georgia’s transit function, which is of strategic importance for the country.

A civilized political system considers the elections as the best way for overcoming the crisis. Elections should be held within a reasonable timeframes. Elections should be held only under the conditions of an improved election code, a healthy electoral environment and free media.

I see clearly that the current authorities’ main priority is to maintain power. Hence, a real threat exists that attempts to maintain power may cause you to make further irreparable mistakes.

Therefore, I warn you, as I warned you before November 7, concerning Girgvliani’s case, concerning a threat of being involved in the war, in many other cases that any mistake – as well as neglecting of already made mistakes – usually end poorly and what is most deplorable – for the country.

The war, a result of the war and a threat of the war has become concurrent for each of our citizens.   

Moving towards peace and Georgia’s unification is impossible with the same policies, with the same style of governance and with the same political team.

I announce that in case of one more adventure Georgia will lose young people, territories, it will finally lose the western trust and support, any perspective of joining Euro-Atlantic structures and will face a great deal of such problems, which are even unpredictable.

You should make a choice – what is more important for you – the country, the promises given to the people in 2003 or securing your personal power.

Purposeful planting of a syndrome of fear in the society should be over. Let people have adequate information and then let the free and informed society make a decision about the mandate of trust.

I will struggle to ensure the after five years of the revolution the country no more faces a problem of stability, justice and elementary freedom. I should be honest before the generation of my children!

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