Lifting of emergency rules needed for dialogue – Georgian opposition

Georgia Materials 9 November 2007 15:42 (UTC +04:00)

( Civil ) - Opposition leaders have refused to engage in direct talks with the authorities unless emergency rules are not lifted and two TV stations are not back on air.

"We do not see any reason to start discussions on the election code in the light of persisting political terror in the country," Tina Khidasheli of the opposition Republican Party, said on November 9.

Two pro-opposition TV stations, Imedi and Kavkasia, remain closed while other private television stations are banned from airing news coverage. Only the Georgian Public Broadcaster is entitled to provide news. Restriction do not also apply to print and on-line media.

Opposition leaders, however, also said that they were ready to immediately meet with Nino Burjanadze, the parliamentary speaker, in the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church without any preconditions. This meeting, however, will have a symbolic rather than any practical importance.

Opposition leaders made the statement after the meeting between opposition leaders and Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, who now acts as a mediator between the opposition and the authorities. Labor Party leader, Shalva Natelashvili, was absent at the meeting. He has been charged with espionage and conspiracy to overthrow the government and his whereabouts are no known. Rumors say he has already left for Russia via breakaway South Ossetia.

Ilia II held a separate meeting with parliamentary speaker, Nino Burjanadze, earlier today.

"I hope today we will be able to begin - or to be more precise - resume constrictive dialogue [with the opposition]," she told reporters after the meeting.

"The both sides have a willingness to defuse tensions and we are actually moving towards this way," Ilia II said after meeting with both the opposition and the parliamentary speaker. "The president has done his best to defuse tensions by yesterday's announcing [on snap elections on January 5]."