Georgian Dream opposition coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, said in a statement on April 11, that it had been joined Industry Will Save Georgia party becoming “a full-fledged member of the coalition”.
Industry Will Save Georgia (Industrialists) is led by Gogi Topadze, 72, an owner of a beer and beverage-producing company Kazbegi. The most recently when he was politically active was in 2010 when he was running for Tbilisi mayor’s office in which one of his competitors was Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, now also part of Ivanishvili-led coalition. Topadze garnered up to 5.2% of votes in the Tbilisi mayoral race, won by ruling party’s Gigi Ugulava. Topadze has not been actively involved in the country’s political life since the local elections two years ago.
Topadze, who is against Georgia’s NATO integration, said on April 5, when he announced about the plans to join the Georgian Dream, that his and Ivanishvili’s political views “are very much” the same, but differed on some foreign policy issues.
“We have differences over NATO,” Topadze told journalists on April 5. “We will never join the NATO – my personal opinion is that NATO will probably disband sooner [than Georgia joins it] – unless we build a democratic state… All these statements that ‘we are close to NATO’ are part of [government’s] PR; no one will accept Georgia into NATO in the existing situation… I think that NATO aspiration has ruined Georgia.”
He says that Georgia cannot become a NATO member because Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied by Russia. “If we join the NATO, we should give up these two [regions], otherwise you can’t join the NATO,” he said.
Topadze is strongly against of Georgia’s contribution to ISAF mission in Afghanistan.
He also said on April 5, that the major goal was “to change the current government” and despite of differences on foreign policy issues cooperation of various opposition parties was required to achieve this main goal.
The Industrialists party has a member in 13-seat Central Election Commission (CEC), as well as in lower level electoral administrations. After partnering with the Industrialists, Ivanishvili’s coalition now has actually two members in the CEC – another one through Conservative Party, whose leader Zviad Dzidziguri is also part of the Georgian Dream coalition.