Free Democrats: New opposition party in Georgia

Ex-Defence Minister Irakli Alasania has been elected as the Free Democrats' leader today., 08 Nov 2014 - 19:47, Tbilisi,Georgia

A new opposition party will soon appear in the Georgian political arena after the Free Democrats (FD) held their third party congress in Tbilisi today.

The congress unanimously elected ex-Defence Minister Irakli Alasania as the party leader. Previously Alasania was the party leader but after he was appointed as Defence Minister, he stepped down from his party post.

Today Alasania said his party would cooperate with anyone willing to serve the country and noted he was confident FD would win the elections in 2016.

"The state should be based on fair laws and not on a will of one person,” Alasania said at the meeting, adding his party would make sure all human rights were protected in the country.

Alasania talked about his team’s pro-Western orientation and noted NATO or the European Union were places where freedom was traditionally "armed and protected”.

In his speech, the FD leader spoke about Russia’s "imperialist fundamentalism” and its recent actions in Ukraine as well as in Georgia in 2008.

FD member Alex Petriashvili, who formerly was the country's European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Minister, also delivered a speech at the party’s congress and said FD would score a goal against the country’s "external enemy”.

Meanwhile, ex-Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze became a member of FD and took a leading role in the party’s ruling board today.

Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili attended the FD congress today as an invited guest. He gave a speech saying his party - the Republican Party of Georgia – and the FD were long-time partners and they would still maintain their cooperation regardless of one of them being in the ruling coalition and the other being in opposition. 

Usupashvili noted the Republicans and FDs shared the same values and this was the main thing.

He said it was too early to say whether the Republican Party and the FDs would be competitors or partners in the next parliamentary elections in 2016 but added that shared values would let the two parties "cooperate fruitfully for the benefit of our country”.

Alasania was dismissed from the post of Defence Minister by Prime Minister Irakli Garibahsvili last week, after which ex-Foreign Minister Panjikidze and ex-Euro-Atlantic Integration Minister Petriashvili resigned.