Peter Semneby, EU’s special representative for South Caucasus, is back to Tbilisi and holding separate meetings with the opposition leaders, who are organizing the ongoing protests in Tbilisi.
Ivan Jestrab, the Czech ambassador to Georgia, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, is also attending series of meetings held on April 16.
Leaders of Alliance for Georgia, Irakli Alasania and Davit Usupashvili, told journalists after the meeting that possibilities of talks between the opposition and President Saakashvili were discussed.
Both Alasania and Usupashvili said that all the opposition parties, which are oginizing the ongoing protests agree that the President’s resignation should be a major “political agenda” of the meeting.
Alasania, however, also added: “We are also ready to listen to the authorities’ view on how they see to find the way out of the crisis.” Alasania also said that it would be “a step forward” if the meeting is arranged.
Davit Usupashvili told the journalists after the meeting that over a dozen of opposition leaders had an agreed position that the President’s resignation terms should be the major topic of discussion in case of the meeting.
He, however, also added, like Alasania: “At the same time, we say that if the authorities offer other issues as well, we are ready to read them, to look through them and acquaint the population with how the authorities view to defuse the situation.”
Other opposition leaders, who also met with EU diplomats separately, were more categorical in their remarks regarding the topics of the possible talks saying that nothing else but the terms of President Saakashvili’s resignation could be on the agenda of the meeting.
Salome Zourabichvili, the leader of Georgia’s Way party, told journalists: “We can talk and meet with Saakashvili only in one case – if the meeting is public and about one demand [his resignation].”
She also expressed her discontent about the format of meetings of opposition leaders and EU diplomats. She said that arranging separate meetings with the opposition leaders was the authorities’ “new trick.” “We are telling similar things [to the EU diplomats]; there are no differences in the positions of the opposition [leaders],” Zourabichvili added.
Zviad Dzidziguri from the Conservative Party also said that the President’s resignation should be the only topic of the possible meeting. He also said that the opposition leaders would issue a joint statement about their position on the matter.
Davit Usupashvili of the Alliance for Georgia told journalists that although there were some leaders in the opposition who were not willing to personally participate in a possible meeting with President Saakashvili, they would agree to be represented by the delegation which would be created in case the meeting was arranged. Nino Burjanadze, a former parliamentary chairperson and leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia, said recently she had no desire to meet with the President. She, however, also said was ready for televised debates with Saakashvili.
EU diplomats plan to meet with other opposition leaders later on April 16.
Davit Usupashvili also said that in the light of absence of mutual trust between the authorities and the opposition, EU’s role in the process was of significant importance.
Irakli Alasania also said after the meeting that the opposition raised the issue of increasing number of attacks on opposition activists. He said it was a very dangerous trend, “will trigger a response reaction from citizens and I call on the authorities to stop terrorizing the population through such methods.”