Nika Melia Talks UNM Strategy, Past Mistakes

Nika Melia, Chairperson of the United National Movement, emphasized the need to strengthen the party structure, find new allies and supporters, and admit past mistakes while “fighting against the autocratic regime” in a July 26 interview with Mtavari Arkhi TV.

Melia, who was in the eye of the political storm after his detention in February 2021 and release in May 2021 as a part of a major EU-brokered deal, has been largely absent from the screens, following the return and subsequent arrest of UNM’s former leader Mikheil Saakashvili to Georgia in October 2021, and Melia’s own defeat in Tbilisi mayoral runoffs on October 30 the same year. As the UNM chairman, he said he was dedicating himself to rejuvenating the party base, while some observers concluded his leadership was damaged by Saakashvili’s return.

Speaking about the future of UNM, Melia underscored the need for sincerity in trying to persuade the former supporters of the ruling party, who now oppose the Georgian Dream due to their deviation from the pro-European path, to vote for the opposition. “If I were to say to yesterday’s Georgian Dream voters that the judicial system was independent during the time of the United National Movement administration, I would never be able to make that person an ally,” he explained.

“We have to tell [them], yes, when the UNM was in power, it was loved obedient judges. And this was the problem,” Melia said. He also said, the UNM was also responsible for scuttling the transfer to the proportional system of parliamentary elections when it held the majority.

“So, today, those obedient judges are everyone’s enemies, and this perverse electoral system has brought the whole country to a state where we are on the verge of losing our sovereignty and independence,” the UNM leader admitted.

“I want all of our potential allies to understand that today’s United National Movement is a different UNM and that it has learned from its own mistakes,” he added.

As a leader of the party which was often accused of trying to dominate smaller opposition groups, Chairperson Melia also stressed that other opposition parties should also grow their electorate, “so that one day when we get together, we have significant numbers [of voters].” Speaking about the opposition’s key challenge he said “[We should try to] turn a passive voter into an active citizen of Georgia.”

Depolarization with GD “Impossible”

The UNM leader underscored the European Commission’s recommendation to depolarize and denoted that this is “impossible” under the current government, a fact he said they are discussing with Western partners.

According to Melia, when one side has seized power and is trying to drag the country into the “imperial bosom” and the other tries to return it instead to Europe, “of course, there will be polarization.”

The UNM chairperson noted that, theoretically, the end of polarization may come if either the ruling party will ends its “integration with Russia” or when the Georgian people refuse integration with Europe.

“[Otherwise] there is such a big difference in ideology and values between our two groups that [talking about depolarization] is impossible,” he argued.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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