13 October, 2011

Interview with Irakli Alasania, leader of ‘Free Democrats’

Appearance of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili on the political arena gave rise to doubts that besides the authorities the businessman-politician would be critically taken by opposition as well. It was said that emergence of strong political rival would least of all make happy Irakli Alasania, leader of ‘Free Democrats’. You will learn how he took this news, why the group of ‘six’ disintegrated and what was the aim of Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Georgia from

the interview with Irakli Alasania.

I.A. – I don’t know Bidzina Ivanishvili in person but I’m aware of the good deeds he’s done lately. He’s a generous man, a Maecenas. It was thanks to him that many our citizens, representatives of culture and science saved their face and survived. All this stirs sympathy for him but a couple of declarations make it difficult to assess what steps he will take in politics.

I got familiar with Bidzina Ivanishvili’s vision: the emphases on such important issues for the country as economy, revival of agriculture and free media, accentuated by ‘Free Democrats’ for the last two years, are put correctly.

Q. – The authorities met Ivanishvili’s declaration with sharp criticism.

I.A. – When Bidzina Ivanishvili made such critical declaration, the authorities felt threat and I’m not surprised at their nervousness.

Q. – A label of Russian businessman has already been stuck to Bidzina Ivanishvili.

I.A. – When Mr. Ivanishvili was spending money for charity, used to build churches and help people, he was acceptable for everybody. If he spends his money in politics why should it be unacceptable for anybody, it’s his own income, isn’t it?

Q. – Do you take him as your rival?

I.A. – I can’t say anything for now. I see him as a man who was very improperly treated by Saakashvili. I’ll wait for him to take steps and after this I’ll make assessment.

Q. – Ivanishvili is speaking about the union of the opposition that will make majority in Georgian Parliament. Do you see yourself in such a coalition?

I.A. – My aim is to oppose the idea of forming a one-party parliament. I welcome the creation of a new party notwithstanding whether they are by my side, together with me or in another political force at the Parliament. Parliament is the place where consent and debates between the political forces should take place. Independent and single-party governing brought the country to an abyss. The philosophy of Saakashvili’s governing is aggressive and for fighting against him I’m looking for partners everywhere.

Q. – You were accused of disintegrating ‘the group of six’ (initially called the ‘Alliance’).

I.A. – The ‘Six’ was fell apart because I couldn’t see the readiness of ts members for active actions. I couldn’t wait for them. The people demand from us timely reaction on every problem. We had to convince them that unlike Saakashvili, we’d solve their problems. Only this could restore their faith and mobilize more than a million voters to turn up at the elections. Up till now I have great respect for the parties making up the ‘Six’; they are noble people who have big potential but they have to act. It’s impossible to implement policy, sitting in he offices in Tbilisi. I, and primarily Georgia, can’t afford to lose time.

Q. – I’d like to ask you about Sarkozy’s visit; some people assessed it as the two Presidents’ PR campaign.

I.A. – PR campaign accompanies such events. Sarkozy, who is facing the elections, will use it for his inter-party PR; Saakashvili will do the same. Sarkozy is the President of a strong country and we must use his arrival for our needs, demonstrate that Georgia is a fundamentally democratic country, but we lack the institutions that should strengthen our democratic aspirations.

Q. – How can Putin’s declaration about creation of Euro-Asian union influence Georgia?

I.A. To say the truth, I see no potential in Euro-Asian political space. What new security mechanism should be created in Euro-Asia? This declaration probably is a part of Putin’s pre-election campaign.

We have to get accustomed to the idea that for the coming 12 years we’ll have to deal with Putin’s Russia. This means that we should pursue pragmatic foreign and security policy. It means that real changes should take place in Georgian administration through parliamentary elections in order to start normalization of relations with Russia. My aim is to restore relations with Russia; I need it for the development of economy, normalization of relations with Abkhazs and Ossetians and for withdrawing of Russian armed forces from Georgia. It will be possible only under post-Saakashvili, post-National rule.

In case the turn-out of people at the elections is 75%, Saakashvili’s power will go and building of national state will start in Georgia.

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