President Saakashvili reiterated in a televised address on Wednesday evening that he would not use his constitutional power to sack the sitting government and appoint new one without Parliament’s approval and denied that his team was demanding an “amnesty” for the officials from the previous government during the talks with Georgian Dream coalition over power-sharing arrangement.
Saakashvili made his televised address hours after it was announced by parliamentary speaker Davit Usupashvili and UNM parliamentary minority leader Davit Bakradze that talks on power-sharing arrangement failed to produce an agreement. In their statements, made separately by Usupashvili and Bakradze, who were involved in the negotiations, said that although they agreed on constitutional issues, but disagreement on scope of amnesty for officials was the stumbling block that prevented reaching of the final accord.
“Stability in the country is in my interests. It is in my interest for the government, elected in October, to work without hindrance, to implement the program it promised to voters and in parallel to continue development of democratic institutions,” Saakashvili said. “In this regard we have never wanted to create problems to the government.”
He then reiterated that he has “no plans whatsoever to dismiss the government” and to use his constitutional powers in this respect.
Saakashvili said that while Georgian Dream (GD) won the elections, it failed to receive constitutional majority in the Parliament, which, Saakashvili said, meant that Georgian people told GD: “govern the country, but maintain the constitution.”
“Negotiations between two Davits [referring to Davit Usupashvili and Davit Bakradze] was mostly ongoing constructively; I was also part of these negotiations and I want to confirm that our positions concurred on most of the issues”, in particular on the constitutional issues, Saakashvili said.
He said that any suggestion that in the process of negotiations his team was trying to make “some kind of deal” in exchange of getting immunity from criminal prosecution was totally unacceptable.
Saakashvili said that it had been wrongly suggested as if he or his allies were demanding “guarantees to remain untouchable”. Saakashvili said that he was not afraid when in 2008, as he put it, “Vladimir Putin delivered a death sentence against me for protecting Georgia.”
“So saying now that I am afraid of some petty local blackmailers, when I was not afraid of a death sentence delivered by more serious [person], is ludicrous. Only the Georgian people and the history will judge us and not any sitting prosecutor, investigator or a parliamentarian; so we should put this kind of conversation aside,” Saakashvili said.
“I will not accept [claims] as if we are demanding amnesty. The word ‘amnesty’ is unacceptable and insulting for the United National Movement and numerous staff of the previous government apparatus; of course there is part of our society, which for some reasons might be demanding punishment of activists of United National Movement and employees of the previous government, but I want to say that these people deserve only gratitude, because Putin declared war against us not because he disliked me, but because we managed to build modern state for the first time in former Soviet space, apart of the Baltic States,” Saakashvili said.
“It is dangerous when we are told that opposition members should be banned from taking public offices for five years. It obviously looks like an attempt of destroying the opposition,” Saakashvili said.
Parliamentary speaker Davit Usupashvili said on February 20, that during the negotiations UNM offered “unconditional and full amnesty for all the public officials from the President to employees of provincial municipalities and applying the amnesty to all the wrongdoings, except of violent crimes.”
Usupashvili said that GD declined it and instead offered UNM on February 17 “unconditional and full amnesty on low and mid-level public servants for all the wrongdoings, except of violent crimes, committed before October 1, 2012.” He said that in addition GD also agreed on “partial amnesty” for high level public officials, in particular for those about 1,500 officials who are in the list of officials in the law on conflict of interests; the list, among others, includes: President; parliamentarians; ministers and their deputies; heads of departments and units of ministries; governors; heads of municipal agencies; judges; members of High Council of Justice; prosecutors and others.
Usupashvili said that proposed “partial amnesty” for these officials envisaged that in case of admitting wrongdoing, they would have been exempted from any criminal prosecution and the only measure applied to them would have been banning them from taking public office for 5 years.
Usupashvili said that in response UNM offered on February 18 a proposal for “full amnesty for everyone, except of President, ministers and parliamentarians, for wrongdoings, except of violent crimes, committed before October 1, 2012.” Difference between proposals of GD and UNM, Usupashvili said, was “huge”, as UNM wanted full amnesty for mid-level and many other officials as well.
Usupashvili also said that although UNM declined this proposal, the Georgian Dream would anyway initiate in the Parliament this bill on amnesty within next two weeks. He said that GD was willing to negotiate this and other issues with UNM in order to reach “a broad political accord”.
In his televised address President Saakashvili also said that he remained “open” for dialogue.
“We should continue working, doors of this [presidential] palace are open for further negotiations; we have no right to step back from the process of dialogue,” he added.