Q&A with Traditionalists party Leader Akaki Asatiani

Q&A with Traditionalists Party Leader Akaki Asatiani

Traditionalists leader slams
Saakashvili for leftist stance
Leader of the Traditionalists party Akaki Asatiani was beside the ‘velvet revolution’ leaders – Nino Burjanadze, Zurab Zhvania and Mikheil Saakashvili to ouster Eduard Shevardnadze; however he opposed them after Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Zhvania announced that they will support Mikheil Saakashvili in January 4 presidential elections. Akaki Asatiani told Civil Georgia on December 9 that his party holds talks with the National-Democrat and New Rights parties to create a right wing movement to contest with the current leadership in the parliamentary elections.

Q.: What was the main reason of your split with the current authorities?

A.: The election campaign on the eve of November 2 parliamentary elections confirmed that the National Movement [party led by Mikheil Saakashvili] took extremely leftist stance. Their slogans were about nationalization, cancellation of taxes on land, abolition of taxes for small and medium enterprises and at the same time Mikheil Saakashvili and his National Movement party promised to double salaries and pensions. During the pre-election campaign, we refrained from debates with Saakashvili.

I think, we should tell the truth to the people, we should not give groundless promises. I told my partners from the Burjanadze-Democrats, that if they joined Saakashvili, I could not follow them.
Due to his slogans, ideology and methods, I could not have stood with him.

We need structural reforms, cabinet of ministers, coalition government, but I doubt that such a person as Saakashvili, who has great ambitions for leadership, will implement it. I am concerned about his irresponsibility. I am also against his staff policy, when various persons obtain positions in the government only because they served a good job during the revolution.

Nino Burjanadze would have been better President for Georgia. I offered Burjanadze to run for presidency along with Saakashvili; however, unfortunately she did not do so. 

Q.: The new leadership has warned regarding the counter-revolution threats for several times. Do you think it is real?

A.: The new leadership is looking for certain counter-revolution moods. The revenge movement has no perspective in Georgia any more. Politically discredited people stand behind this movement, who do not want to recognize that Shevardnadze’s era has ended.

I think the present authorities create a problem out of the political figures, which have no influence any more. What can [Irina] Sarishvili-Chanturia [Shevardnadze’s ally], Shalva Natelashvili [the Labor Party leader and political foe of Mikheil Saakashvili] or the Socialist party do now? They pose no danger any more.  

Q.: Leader of the Adjara Autonomous Republic demands postponement of the presidential and parliamentary elections until June, otherwise he threatens with boycott. You have recently visited Batumi to hold talks with Mr. Abashidze. What is Abashidze’s aim when he threatens with boycotting elections?

A.: Maybe with threats over the boycott Abashidze wants to hold horse-trading with the current leadership. As a party [Revival Union] leader Aslan Abashidze could have announce boycott. But he is the leader of the autonomy.

By boycotting the January 4 presidential elections, Adjara Autonomous Republic somehow becomes in the similar to the Georgia’s secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The presidential candidates running for the January 4 elections are unacceptable for me, but it is better to elect the President in order to avoid the crisis in the country.

I have friendly relations with Aslan Abashidze and during my visit to Adjara, I told him about my views regarding boycotting. I tried to clear the way for the meeting between Burjanadze and Abashidze [which was held on December 10, however the sides failed to reach agreement]. 

There are three problems. The first one is that Abashidze demanded postponement of presidential elections that is impossible, as we should act within the frames of the Constitution. Under which the snap presidential elections should be held within 45 days after the previous president’s resignation.

I think it will not be a problem to agree over the date of the parliamentary elections, as I also thing that they should be postponed for several months.

Q.: How important is Aslan Abashidze’s role in Georgian politics?

A.: His role is very important. Actually, he saved Adjara from the chaos that took place in Georgia during 1992-93. However, he had to use authoritative methods for this purpose. In order to avoid danger Aslan Abashidze had to pursue less democratic policy, however the level of democracy during that period [early 90s] was much higher in Adjara, than it is now.

During Shevardnadze’s presidency, the two persons seemed to confront each other, however in reality they depended on each other.

Of course, Shevardnadze’s resignation has automatically raised Aslan Abashidze’s issue. I think Abashidze should modernize the style and methods of governance and promote the democratic values in the region. I hope he will manage to do so. 

Q.: Is Abashidze willing to do so?

A.: Whether he is willing or not will become clear soon.

Q.: What are the plans of the Traditionalists party for the parliamentary elections?

A.: I think the parliamentary elections will be held in April. Voter lists should be specified and the election commissions should be composed on a parity basis – each political party should have one representative in the election commissions.

It is doubtful that Abashidze will manage to unite serious political parties and form a bloc.

I will not unite with anyone, who does not share my principles. However, there are certain forces, with whom I can come to an understanding. Presently, our party holds consultations with the National Democratic Party, who recently dismissed Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia from the post of chairperson.

We also have launched consultations with the New Rights and other parties. If we manage to unite before the parliamentary elections, be sure, this will be a strong, rightist union, which will really gain success during the parliamentary elections.


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