‘ West wants to get free of Rose Revolution spell ’
18 November, 2010

Despite the earlier claims of Davit Bakradze, Speaker of Georgian Parliament, prognosis of pessimists came true. Media obscurity is going to remain unaffected.

 

It will parallel rampant zero transparency of media funding and bogged access to public information, as well as monopoly over press distribution and all those issues which the Georgian legislators could have sorted out in one attempt, had they examined a collection of projects initiated by the media expert group.
However, it would be hard to believe that the outcome of consultations on the election code would be different from the media issue and that superficiality and showiness would be sidelined – much to the chagrin of the Government. By the way, you would be surprised to learn that the Georgian Government turned out to be more stable than the French Government. Few demonstrations and strikes were enough to open the floodgates for the demise of latter when President Sarkozy accepted resignation of the PM and the Cabinet of Ministers.
We talked on these issues with Zaza Piralishvili:

Q: Is the statement of Davit Bakradze on the media legislation an empty gesture? How the media space could benefit only from the disclosure of media owners’ names?
A: The Authorities have a great number of means to cover the identity of real media owners. They will further refine techniques of blanketing their identity. We should not feel relaxed. We should force the Authorities to pay more and more attention to our positions. However, it will require a rather strong civil culture, as you may know.
The Authorities must feel that deceiving us the way they have been doing before would become increasingly fruitless unless they and their media channels are convinced of the prospect of becoming complete liars and symbols of absolute negativity.
At first look, it is as if Georgians are not moved by the society problems; the trait which perseveres for months and even years. Yet, one day they may suddenly recall everything to the last detail and hold you accountable for everything.

Q: The question of whether TV Imedi should cease or continue functionong the way it does, is like asking me to choose between cholera and black plague – these words belong to a Polish journalist and former dissident Adam Michnik. What do you think, how should we treat this sort of illnesses?
A: Profound transformation of media into a political instrument is the illness of the post-Soviet space. Something similar unfolded in the United States as early as in the first decade of the 20th century. Then they realized that too close relations of media with certain political groups tarnish its reputation, influence and financial standing. While there is indeed no such thing as complete alienation, there is always a reasonable distance maintained by both sides. Here only vulgar forms of collaboration prevail so far.
We have to induce TV-media to break free of its political patrons and become the fourth power, instead of acting as an appendix of other three or of the opposition. It should respect us – their audience. This is the only way to get rid of both cholera and black plague.

Q: After the schoolchildren protested against introducing of school graduation exams, the Ministry of Education summoned directors of several schools. The meeting led to the resignation of the directors. How do the principles of the State and justice correspond to these methods of punishing pupils and teachers?
A: No one in our country should be so ignorant to forget that any violent measure against adolescents will backfire in triple digits and generate widespread feelings of resentment in the whole generation. They should remember that this generation is going to appear on the arena in few years. So, if this mistake, including the abhorring case of the directors, is not corrected, I doubt that our well-known imperishable party will succeed to retain its immortality status. Let us recall the fate of ex-President Shevardnadze when a large and active part of the youth refused to cooperate with him. Unfortunately, I see the signs of our people getting accustomed to injustice.
As I know, these 12th grade pupils who gathered in front of the Parliament rejected  an opposition party leaders’ help. In other words, they stayed clear of political insinuations.
The Authorities sowed seeds of suspicion in the entire generation. Now they cannot sooth the situation with shows and festivities. The adolescents will indeed come over but always retain memories of what had happened. The moment a political force of the right taste appears, they will be most likely to flock to it. Youth policy requires much more care.

Q: Ex-Foreign Minister and opposition leader Salome Zurabishvili left both politics and Georgia. She will work at the UN Security Council in New-York. ‘I leave but I will be back!’ she said. Has the time come for the Georgian opposition to leave? Will this new role of the former opposition leader in the prestigious UN organization alleviate feelings of the people who stood by Mrs. Salome in good and bad weather? They stay in Georgia while she leaves.
A: I think it was wise of Mrs. Salome to do that. The ability of taking a pause at a right time is a gift of any politician. If only several more politicians had had it and refrained from wearing off their public image and the protest idea by inertia! I do not mean leaving the politics completely. I mean taking a pause - just that.
I believe they in the West are interested in getting international political thought free of the spell of Rose Revolution, so that local events are interpreted in more realistic ways, which are far from extremism and advocate stately moderation.

Q: Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze made an offer to the opposition to start negotiations on the improvement of election environment several months ago. What happened next was the presentation of ready-made legislative proposals by eight opposition parties to the Parliament. However, the legislative majority stalled the process. They thought it was the opposition’s ultimatum. Even if they are resumed, how worthwhile such negotiations could be in the end?
A: As I know, the negotiations are monitored by international observers. It’s a guarantee of positive outcome. I think the most important outcome could be an alternative political centre with its own state project and political arsenal. In this scenario, political life would be running in two parallel niches and the Authorities would exist in the presence of its reasonable and decent alternative. In this way, any defeat of the Authorities would not be necessarily commensurate to the defeat of the State.
The opposition would buy a winning ticket only when it will consist of reasonable and decent political forces alien to chaos, which is its normal state. Without it, this activity would not be fruitful because well organized and mobilized Authorities would always have an upper hand over the fragmented opposition.

Q: Former US President George W. Bush supports the use of torture during interrogation. In his interview with the Times, he said that owing to the use of drowning imitation during the tortures, the British thwarted plans of huge terrorist explosions in the Heathrow Airport. Is it not embarrassing to hear such words from the former President of the country which defends democracy and human rights in the whole world?
A: Of course, it is. Undiplomatic statements are typical of Bush – his cowboy-style directness was a necessary part of his political image. Unfortunately, wars have their own rules which do not always follow laws. The main thing is to avoid wars, or else, illegality is their second name.
Till today Russians do not recognize crimes they perpetuated in Europe during the World War II. Yet, of course no one believes that they were very polite and refined gentlemen there.

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