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Saakashvili to Face ‘Tough Questions’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Aug.'08 / 22:12

 Burjanadze: time will come for tough questions;
• Burjanadze: I have to play active political role;
• Opposition: no tome for internal strife now;
• Opposition: NATO must speed-up Georgia membership;

Opposition parties, as well as former parliamentary speaker, Nino Burjanadze, said on August 18 Russian troops’ withdrawal was now a priority, but the government would definitely face “tough questions” afterwards about what led to the conflict and why it all happened.

“I'm afraid it will not be very easy for the government to answer all the questions,” Nino Burjanadze said in an interview with Reuters. “It was impossible to imagine that Russian tanks would be 20-25 minutes drive from Tbilisi, that we would have so many refugees and displaced persons and so many casualties among civilians.”

“I am more than sure that right now I have to play a very active political role in the country,” Burjanadze added in what appears to be her strongest indication of having plans to make the political comeback soon.

Meanwhile, leaders of two opposition parties – Republican and New Rights – Davit Usupashvili and Davit Gamkrelidze, respectively, said at a joint news conference on August 18, that they would continue, what they called, “a moratorium” on conformation with the authorities. But, they said, questions would be asked and analysis would be made of what had happened as soon as the crisis recedes.

Other opposition politicians are also cautious from making any harsh remarks for now, at least for the Georgian media. But on August 15, the Financial Times carried quotes of Levan Gachechiladze, co-leader of opposition coalition and Kakha Kukava, leader of the Conservative Party, warning the authorities about the anticipated protest rallies.

Gachechiladze was quoted by FT.com as saying that the opposition would campaign for elections to be held “at the earliest opportunity”, perhaps within two months. And Kukava was quoted as saying: “Saakashvili was personally responsible for the military operation, and for starting a war we could not win.” He also added the opposition would wait until the situation had cooled and then call for mass demonstrations aimed at removing the government.

As soon as the quotes were carried in the Russian news wires, both of the politicians prompted to announce that their remarks were put out of the context.

“Today, when Russian tanks are rolling on the Georgian territory, on the most part of its territory, we need unity, firmness and our enemies should never see political tensions in the country,” Levan Gachechiladze said on August 15.

“Our position is that Russian tanks should leave Georgia and afterwards discussions will start over who is responsible for what has happened,” Kukava told Civil.Ge.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement the Republican and New Rights parties called on NATO on August 18 to speed up the process of Georgia’s integration into the alliance.

“We call on you, against the background of existing situation and based on the NATO Bucharest summit declaration, to take a decision on Georgia’s prompt integration into the alliance,” the statement reads. “It would be a clear message to everyone, who think to achieve their imperial aspirations through the military means and it also would be a message to all the freedom-loving nations that they are not alone. It would also be a chance for Georgia to finally get rid of armed conflicts and to continue peaceful march towards the democracy.”

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