Irakli Melashvili: we should not wait when Obama and EU will take from here Mishiko
 Tbilisi 10:45 - 11.10.10 «GHN»
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8 opposition parties tell about own vision in connection with amendments to the Elections Code to international organizations, experts and NGOs. The authors of amendments believe that in case if the changes will be made in Elections Code, the fraud in elections will not be possible and the elections will be done according to the principle - "one voter - one vote". Will the opposition be able to persuade government and implement changes, what impact will be made by these changes to the general elections environment - this questions GHN discussed with one of the leaders of National Forum - Irakli Melashvili.

- Mr. Irakli, 8 opposition parties presented the package of amendments to the Elections Code. Are you satisfied with the working process?

- We presented 5 questions, for discussion with Georgian and international organizations. Yesterday several viewpoints were expressed and I think we will take them into consideration and the working group will be created for this. I am glad that main opposition parties get the common position. During 15 years it was not possible to develop a mutual understanding over the issues concerning the Elections Code. In this respect a little step forward was made, however the main is a result for us. The public is interested in the result. This is a part of the big process.

- You said the main part of the opposition agreed to the initiated amendments to the Code, but 3 of them were not present - Labor Party, Manufacturers and Freedom...

- All of them were invited. The Manufacturers initially refused to work jointly. I cannot say anything about Gamsakhurdia. The Labor Party is going to present own vision and I think we can cooperate with them.

- One of the leaders of the Manufacturers Zurab Tkemaladze said to GHN, they prefer to have own vision, then to be forced to agree with others' one...

- I cannot teach people coming to politics from business. Generally when we are talking about the agreement this mean that the conditions of agreement must be fulfilled. My apologizes to Mr. Zurab, but some ambitions are to be set aside for the biggest aim. What is happening in the other cases, we have a very big experience. In 2000, in 2001, in 2002, in 2005, in 2008 the political parties were discussing with government some questions separately, among them about the elections code. The result of such negotiations was in favor of the government. Taking into consideration this experience we believe that we need to present before the government a common position and the Manufacturers have a choice to decide what they will do.

- At the beginning of the conversation you mentioned the result and main is the process of negotiations with the government... Do you think that government will agree to negotiations and to consent?

- It is very difficult to refuse all those points which are stated in the Code. For example the biometric passports are now distributed. Biometrics will give us the possibility to count all voters, to avoid fraud in the elections lists. And at the day of election to hold them by the system - one vote - one voter. It is a very interesting argument, why we are not doing this when the international organizations are ready to finance this. That is to say there is no financial problem, no technical problem, the system obviously is better. So, what can be said in argument? - I will not give you that possibility to count the electorate and I will falsify elections! - This is another question; this is to say that openly in the country a dictatorship is. I want in the country everything would be as I want it. In such case no dialogue can be held. In such case the dialogue may overgrow to the confrontation. The government says no ultimatums will be accepted. We say: we have two choices: one - to create a normal elections environment and to give the country to change the government by the elections. The second: they said that they wish to establish dictatorship and to fraud elections and lists. But I say we will not reconcile with this. We are interested that government to say yes or no. In case of Yes we are ready to use this new system and to explain to the population what this system will give to us. In case of No we are ready to confront. We are preparing for both. If the government thinks that this is too much drugged process, it is mistaken. We know that if the process will be prolonged, the government will say this. It will argue that no time for its implementation is left. The government will say let's do the elections as usual and afterwards the next parliament will decide this question. Because, we the Forum are preparing for both variations. The worst strategy taken by the government will be a drugging of a time.

- You did mentioned international organizations, do you think its participation will influence the government to implement those changes that you mentioned...

- I would say very clearly. Will or will not happen changes in our country this is a question to decide for our Georgian public. The international organization cannot force anybody to do anything. They maybe used as a supplementary force in this process. They can be used in questions of expertise and other like questions. Bu we have to force the government to make changes if we wish to make such order in our country as we like. This would be a dream if we hope that Obama or EU will take away from here Mishiko. The reality is the following; If all opposition parties are agreed that the government must be changed peacefully this denotes that government have to be replaced through the elections. For holding elections we need a normal environment. Or otherwise we should give up talking that we66 wish peaceful change of the government. We should act together with the public. The role of international organizations for me is very clear but as well much narrowed. What elections environment will be in the country this is up to our decision. Others may help up with advise, experts and so on.

- You did say that the "National Forum" is ready for development of events in two different variations. What are you going to do if the process of negotiations with government fails? Leader of your party Kakha Shartava said that "Forum" may organize the large scale protest action...

- We may and we can do this if necessary. Our aim is to achieve the result. We will use all means for achieving the aim. I think we have to do this, as I know this government well.

- Will you say that the elections environment improved, in case of implementation of changes in the "Elections Code"?

- The 5 changes which we are demanding will change the elections code, and by such new code will be impossible to fraud elections at the elections day. What about the elections environment, this is far wider notion than the code. The elections environment means the freedom of media and many other questions. The changes in the code are a part of the elections environment. Even if the new elections code will be passed initiated by us, no results will be achieved if problems in media will not be abolished. The fair elections will not be held. The elections in fact are falsified not in the elections day but long before.

- The same intentions have Nino Burjanadze's political party according to which the elections environment will not change and the negotiations about the elections code will only give a way to government's intentions, it will prolong the process for a year and a half...

- If such negotiations will last for a year the biometric data implementation will not be possible. The question about biometric data has to be decided before December because, the budget of donors has to take this question into consideration. I think that in about a two month the government has to reply to the very important question - YES or NO. If the talks are about the improvement of the elections lists, and that we have not to allow the government to fraud elations, then explain to us why this is not good. In such case they have to say us what is an alternative option. They have to explain to us why they were signing the statement on February 2. There is as well the signature of Mrs. Nino Burjanadze. We have to discuss this. From the other point of view, this process is not hindering to others wishing to come into the power. They have a freedom for its own actions.

- What do you think about the time limit? In what period of time can the opposition accomplish the negotiations with government in connection with elections code?

- For the main questions the government has to say YES or NO in about 2 month period. Will it be consent to the changes or not. If the agreement for the biometrics will not be reached this change cannot be made before elections. So, we are interested in timely implementation of everything. I am saying once more I did not seen anybodies alternate plan, I will be very glad to be introduced to such plan if any. We have to discuss, we have to force the government to reply and after this we will act accordingly. I think this question will be resolved before November ends.

- What do you think when the talks about the unfair elections in Georgia will end. Are you going to work on other questions except of "Elections Code"? Will you work on the question of media and terror...

- We declared that the conference about the elections environment's other components will be very soon. We already meet with several persons, who are working on this issue. In two weeks the conference about the media freedom will be held.

- These questions will be discussed as well by those parties who worked under the amendments to the Elections Code?

- Here the interparty group worked. The questions touched the Elections Code. In such case it was enough the qualification of political parties, but when the discussion touches the media freedom issues, this is to be reviewed by professionals. When working under such questions we will put forward the media role, NGOs and its suggestions will be reviewed.

- For the victory in elections the opposition alongside with the fair elections environment needs high rating as well. What should be done for increasing of the rating of the political parties?

- Opposition needs the activity and needs to work with population. The rating is an upholding of the population. If one will not meet with population and will not explain to them that the political parties have no access to the TV, to "Imedi" to "Rustavi2", nothing can be reached.

- Do you think that opposition can defeat the government having the Elections Code that is it presently and the environment given?

- It depends upon configuration. Today if we have had the fair elections environment, in the society this will make many changes. Because the optimism would be among the population. The hopeless attitude of our population to the elections caused the high result of the government in the elections. People have to believe that its choice will give results. The amendments to the Code are necessary namely for this reason. The changes will give to us the possibility to not to allow the government to fraud votes.

- Alongside with the falsified voted your party leaders often are talking about the votes sold for 20 GEL. Any preventive measures in the amendments for such facts?

- The honesty of man could not be restricted by any legislative measures. This is a question of the internal culture of the human. The political culture the dignity. No code can regulate such things. This is not under the regulations. The citizen has to decide himself; if he wishes to sale the future of his child for 10 GEL, one cannot prohibit him form such actions. No sanctions can prevent this.

- I would ask you about the representative public gathering, why the "National Forum" did not attend it in the Philharmonic?

- We should meet after the reached agreement in the May. This not happen. Today we do not know its plans. In the beginning of September we meet with Gogi Qavtaradze we passed him our document with our suggestions. They have to contact us, but they sis not contact us. We considered this as they are having different point of view. They are not interested with our suggestion. Now we are watching the events.

GHN, David Qoqoshvili

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