Ongoing street protests are now “entering a new phase”, wherein more focus should be made “on political process and a dialogue,” Irakli Alasania, the leader of Alliance for Georgia, said.
He told the audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington on June 17, that his political associates would present to the society and to the commission on constitutional reforms “amendments that we would like to see in the constitution.” “We already have our suggestions on the electoral code and electoral commission,” he added.
He also said that having of civilian control on the law enforcement agencies “to distance them from political and electoral process” was also essential for creating proper electoral environment, as well as free media.
“These are the things on which we are prepared to work with the government and of course that should be part of a package to change the electoral calendar and to approach general elections,” Alasania said.
“We have to negotiate with the government how will be the best to bring these political forces – those which are stronger – into the parliament and to continue debates [in the Parliament] and how to take this discourse from the streets in the Parliament,” he added.
Alasania said that if these agreements are reached by this autumn, which he said would be “a very tough” period for Georgia’s economy, “then we’ll have lot of enthusiasm and the potential combined from the opposition and from the government to face the challenges of economic and security nature.”
He also said that he believed “the process will be joined by other opposition leaders” as well.
Alasania said that violent crackdowns on protesters, like the one that took place on June 15, as well as series of arrests of opposition activists was further increasing mistrust between the sides. He, however, reiterated that the dialogue had no alternative and also added that the authorities should offer “meaningful” and “viable” proposals.
“We have already started the process of moving the street protest into more political process,” he said and added that the opposition had already started gradually removing improvised cells from number of streets, reopening traffic there.
“So we made a step to acknowledge to the government that we are coming to the negotiating table with a good faith,” Alasania said. “In the nearest future if the talks continue – and I do believe they will continue – we will see end of street protest and transferring all this discourse into a more meaningful political process.”
He also said that “the opposition made mistakes in the past, because we were just demanding the change, but we were not offering a viable alternative.”
“This is exactly the point of transformation that we are seeing now,” Alasania said and added that it was exactly what he was intending to do by going into provinces to deliver his planned political party’s message to voters.
He also said that more “issue-based criticism” of the government’s policies in various directions was required.
Alasania, who together with his political partners from the Alliance for Georgia – Republican and New Rights parties, were initially cautious about joining the street protest rallies, said that he decided to do so back in April “predominantly because of making impact on the processes” so that processes “to go in more peaceful way.”
Speaking about the western allies’ role in Georgia’s current political crisis, Alasania said that he wanted to see the United States and EU in the role of “facilitators” of talks, rather than of mediators. He also said that the western partners should also be “monitors” of potential agreements that might be reached between the authorities and the opposition so that to guarantee implementation of those agreements. He also said that he would like to have “a high-level special envoy from the United States” to be engaged in this process.