Dialogue between Georgia's ruling and opposition parties has finally begun. However, at this initial stage, the common ground and cooperative vision needed to lead the country away from crisis has yet to be found.
EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby hailed the beginning of dialogue between the Georgian authorities and the opposition believing the only way of solving the political crisis is the continuation of negotiations.
On May 12, having met with both parliamentary and the radical opposition leaders, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili announced the principles on which the government is prepared to hold dialogue with their opponents.
The five-point plan looks as follows:
1. Setting up a commission, which will work on constitutional amendments. The proposed commission will be chaired by a representative of the opposition parties.
2. Joint work on the electoral law.
3. Joint work on the judiciary reforms.
4. Cooperation in various state structures.
5. Appointment of an opposition member in the board of trustees at the Georgian Public Broadcast.
MP Petre Tsiskarishvili, the leader of parliamentary majority, declared the opposition would fail to achieve its goals through street protest rallies. Tsiskarishvili, who participated in a meeting between the opposition leaders and President Saakashvili on May 11, told journalists "it would be impossible for them [extra-parliamentary opposition] to use street rallies and 'cells' for mounting pressure on the authorities and for blackmailing the authorities. Elections - parliamentary, presidential and local elections - will be held as planned on their original dates."
Members of the ruling majority expressed their hope that dialogue between the radical opposition and the government will continue.
The Parliamentary minority leaders meanwhile, who met with President Saakashvili on May 11, declared that they would engage in drafting of new constitution proposed by the authorities. MP Giorgi Targamadze, the leader of CDM, underlined that the Christian-Democrats having a new constitution will itself lead to the setting of new dates for elections.
Irakli Alasania, leader of Alliance for Georgia; Salome Zourabichvili, leader of Georgia's Way; Kakha Shartava, leader of National Forum and Levan Gachechiladze, an individual opposition figure and a former presidential candidate in last year's early polls, represented the extra-parliamentary opposition parties at the first meeting with the President since the launch of protests. The leaders later shared the details of the dialogue with the president with their party colleagues and discussed possible action plans. The opposition leaders addressing thousands of protesters outside the Parliament after talks with President Saakashvili, called for expanding unrest and for demonstrators to make protests "sharper." Other leaders however called for further talks in parallel to the street rallies. Salome Zourabichvili, told the rally that the meeting made clear for her that President Saakashvili "lives in a virtual reality" and that the authorities refuse to even acknowledge that there is crisis in the country. The radical opposition leaders re-emphasized their plans of national disobedience and blockage of major thorough-ways in the country. Irakli Alasania, however, believes that despite the ineffectiveness of the dialogue between the president and the opposition leaders held yesterday, this dialogue must continue.
Leaders of the opposition party Tavisupleba did not attend the meeting of the radical opposition leaders, to discuss the proposals which emerged after the meeting with the president. The rank and file members of the Tavisufleba party did voice an alternative plan: formation of the Committee of National Liberation, to organize and oversee large-scale on-going protests throughout Georgia.