While President Saakashvili boasts of, as he puts it, “Georgia’s huge foreign policy successes,” the opposition parties and movements are taking advantage of the social problems that have lately been generated in the country and are preparing the foundation for a revitalization of their activities. But most political analysts agree that these attempts by the opposition are of a more sporadic character and fail to deliver a clear message to the societ, thus giving the President the opportunity to downplay the opposition’s role by referring to it as “ineffective.”
In his late night news conference on March 29, which was broadcasted live by the leading Georgian televisions, Mikheil Saakashvili spoke much about Georgia’s “increased role” in the region and described Georgia as “a determinant of the [new] political fashion” in the post-Soviet space.
He emphasized Georgia’s role in the developments in Moldova, where, as he said, Georgia “facilitated” talks between the opposition and the government and helped in “the creation of a European-orientated government” there. Saakashvili also admitted that Georgia played “an important role” in the recent developments in Kyrgyzstan, saying that Roza Otunbayeva, an oppostion leader who is now the interim Kyrgyz Foreign Minister, was permanently in touch with the Georgian officials. “During the Rose Revolution she [Otunbayeva] was in Georgia and knew everything that was happening… the Georgian factor was a catalyst for many things going on there [in Kyrgyzstan],” Saakashvili added.
He especially stressed the importance of the upcoming visit of U.S. President George W. Bush, who is expected to arrive in Tbilisi on May 10. “We can not yet understand what a huge importance this visit has,” Saakashvili said.
Political analysts Ghia Nodia of the Caucasus Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD), says that President Saakashvili “is trying to overshadow internal problems with the successes in foreign policy.”
“And this is not surprising, especially when this success is vivid,” Nodia told Civil Georgian on March 30.
Meanwhile, as the number of people displeased with the government’s performance increases, the opposition tries to re-emerge in the country’s political realm, analysts say.
On March 30 a new opposition public movement, dubbed the People’s Forum for Welfare and Democracy (PFWD), was established. The founders of this new movement, slated to become a political party sometime in the near future, include leader of the Traditionalists Party Akaki Asatiani, a former ally of Saakashvili during the Rose Revolution, economic analyst Niko Orvelashvili of the Institute of Economic Development, and several other influential politicians.
Earlier, the Labor Party and the Go Forward Georgia (Tsin Sakartvelo) opposition movement announced, on March 16, that they have established, as they put it, a “United Opposition Center” to coordinate the opposition parties’ activity.
Representatives from the opposition National-Democratic Party, the Conservative Party and the Traditionalists, as well as from the public movements Go Ahead Georgia, met on March 29. During this meeting they discussed the potential for cooperation, but, as they say, this does not mean that a formal unification of these opposition forces into one coalition has occurred yet.
But President Saakashvili said on March 29, that “this activity by the opposition is ineffective.”
“As usual, the opposition activates its efforts on the eve of elections. The nearest elections in Georgia, the local elections, will be held in autumn, next year. And talks about dismantling [the government] will take place before [the elections] are untimely… I wish everyone good luck in the elections next year, but I think we will succeed again in these elections. If someone wants to dismantle something or destroy something before the elections, these people will go beyond the frames of the constitution… We will defend Georgian democracy from attacks by both internal and outer [forces],” he added.
In this statement President Saakashvili was referring to a statement made by the leader of the opposition National-Democratic Party, Bachuki Kardava, on March 26 wherein Kardava said that “the current government has brought the country to the edge of disaster and it’s time to start its [the government’s] dismantling.”
However, Ghia Nodia, for one, doubts that the opposition’s activity will result in a powerful coalition. “They fail to agree on who will be the driving force in this coalition. They fail to deliver a clear message as to what they are offering society. They also fail to form a position which will be an alternative to that one offered by the government. They do not have a plan of action, a strategy. The President knows very well that this opposition is not a real force and that is why he downplays its role,” Ghia Nodia said.
Saakashvili even went so far as to say that he is happy "that these very parties are the opposition force," in his speech to the public on March 29.