Today's meeting between President Mikheil Saakashvili and opposition leaders in Georgia sends an important signal to the people of Georgia - and all who are committed to democracy - that the Government is firmly committed to working cooperatively with opposition leaders to find peaceful solutions to the challenges facing Georgia today.

The Government views today's meeting as the beginning of an honest and transparent process through which President Saakashvili and his administration will honor the spirit and lessons of the Rose Revolution by building on and expanding the foundation of democracy that already exists in Georgia.

The Government welcomes the opportunity to use this dialogue to take new and important steps toward strengthening democratic institutions and building a national consensus toward expanding the rights and opportunities that are the hallmarks of civil society.

Mr. Saakashvili today made the offer to the opposition of a constitutional commission, chaired by the opposition, which will work towards a "balanced constitutional model". He also offered to start working with the opposition on the constitutional code and judicial reform; and to give opposition members the chance to be represented on various administrative agencies.

Mr. Saakashvili said: "Every political force in Georgia has the chance to be part of the political process, to build a civilized democracy, all of us together. A democracy where everyone will respect each other, deal with each other in a civilized way, and work together for the future of our country.

"Today we offered to the opposition - parliamentary and non-parliamentary, radical and moderate - to create a constitutional commission based on equality, which will work to create a balanced constitutional model. A model where there will be space for strong presidential power, as well as a strong parliament, an independent judiciary, and where the interests of every citizen of Georgia will be better protected.

"The head of the previous commission was prepared by the president, Shevardnadze at the time. I offer now that the opposition leads the process and we are ready to work with them and take part in the meetings.

"I also offered to start work on the electoral code. Any kind of elections we have today, there will always be a radical group which will say that they agree only with the results where they are announced as winners. Let's be frank, it was this way until now. For some groups, elections are just a chance to cause disturbances. But let's agree now on an electoral system in which no one dares to protest against the results and use it as a reason for disturbances.

"I also offered the opposition to work together on reform of the judiciary and I offered cooperation in different agencies. I am ready to see representatives of the opposition on the different responsible offices. Amongst others, we have to work to see representatives of the opposition in the supervisory Board of the Public Broadcaster.

"As a state we will protect the right of self expression for journalists. No government will terrorize them, and no one should have the illusion that me personally or the Georgian state will allow anyone to terrorize any journalist. I agree on this with several representatives of the opposition today.

"I am sure this dialogue will finally bring a positive result for the main subject of our respect, for whom I and all the responsible people in this country work - for the people of Georgia, for Georgian society."

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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