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Georgia is moving forward, Russian journalist says

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, June 16
Two years on from the Russian-Georgian war Georgia is moving towards “further democratisation”, Russian journalist and anchor on Ekho Moskvy radio Matvey Ganapolsky said on Tuesday at the meeting with Georgian journalists at the RIA Novosti headquarters.

“I am happy to see that the country has not stumbled morally - this is very important. I have seen a country which despite internal difficulties is moving forward, and this is absolutely clear. The ones who started this war hoped that some internal forces, though they did not know clearly which, would overthrow the regime, however this did not happen and everything remains within constitutional boundaries, which is very important for the international community,” Ganapolsky noted.

He refrained from discussing the internal affairs in Georgia, saying that Georgians will resolve them “by themselves through legitimate elections.” “As a Russian journalist watching the development of events in Georgia, I can only say one thing: I am very happy to see that Georgia is building – it is building roads, houses… Yes, you might not like the quality of the roads, however I want to tell you: people, you are at least building something, at least you are constructing the roads,” he said.

The fact that there is “political competition” in the country with the Government doing “some things right and making mistakes as well” and the opposition also “making some mistakes” indicates that Georgia is leading the “normal life of a democratic state,” according to Ganapolsky. “The main problem of the Georgian people is not whether a hundred kilometres more road will be constructed or a skyscraper built. The main problem is that most Georgians perceive their current life as a prelude to some dreamland. It is not like this. You are building this country together,” the journalist said. “The most important thing is that you are moving forward,” he added.

Ganapolsky touched upon the issue of Georgia’s breakaway regions, saying that eventually both Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be returned to Georgia. “I know that losing the territories [Abkhazia and South Ossetia] was very difficult, as a neighbouring country took away your territories, however this did not lead to national unrest nor to the Kyrgyz scenario – this demonstrates the wisdom of the Georgian nation, because in this kind of situation, when its territories are taken away, it is better to consolidate with the Government rather than overthrow it,” he said. “As for the territories themselves, they will be returned – I am strongly convinced of this,” he added.

Ganapolsky suggested that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will have to make a choice between Russia and Georgia. “As soon as the attractiveness of Georgia exceeds the attractiveness of Russia, from this very moment you can start the countdown to the time of their return to Georgia. What I like about Georgia now is that it is becoming more beautiful, more attractive – it is moving towards further democratisation,” he said.

The Russian journalist noted that Tbilisi is not top news for the Russian media any more. “I see how the mutual ungrounded assaults on each other by Georgian and Russian officials have stopped. The reason for this is of course the upcoming Olympiad in Sochi, which Mikheil Saakashvili can close in a minute, and you know how,” Ganapolsky said. “A bordering country can do anything it wants. I hope that Saakashvili does not have such intentions – he understands the meaning of this Olympiad for Russia very well, and Russia also understands that he [Saakashvili] can close it in a minute, so Russia is currently taking steps back,” he noted.

As for future relations between Russia and Georgia, Ganapolsky said that neither of the two states are ready for dialogue right now, “because Georgia does not accept a model of a dialogue in which Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain under Russia, and Russia does not know how to give up these territories without losing face. I think a dialogue is necessary, but should be related to purely humanitarian issues: the citizens should not suffer, let the politicians suffer,” he stated.