Washington briefing: Georgian opposition leaders flock to the United States
Published: Monday October 06, 2008
Levan Gachechiladze, the main opposition candidate in the Georgian presidential election in January 2008, this week became the latest Georgian pro-Western opposition leader to visit the United States.
Speaking at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, on September 30 about the recent developments in his country, Mr. Gachechiladze argued that it has become "impossible" to unite around the current Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili since he makes "wrong decisions" and there are serious questions about his leadership since Georgia's brief but militarily disastrous war with Russia last month.
Mr. Gachechiladze warned that unless Mr. Saakashvili promptly restores democratic freedoms and shares power with the opposition, "destabilization" will follow.
Georgia's former acting president and parliament speaker until earlier this year Nino Burjanadze, David Usupashvili of the Republican Party, and David Gamkrelidze of the New Rights Party have all visited the United States since the August war.
In a September 8 commentary, the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl revealed that "American officials are still seething at Saakashvili [over] his impulsive and militarily foolhardy attack on South Ossetia," provoking the Russian counter-attack and thus causing an "embarrassment" to the West.
"The truth is that it would be considerably easier for the United States to defend Georgia and its democracy if it did not have to defend - and depend on - Saakashvili himself," Mr. Diehl argued.
Although both President George W. Bush and Mr. Saakashvili were at the United Nations General Assembly last week, no meeting between the two has been reported.