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Georgia sceptical about Mistral deal

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, January 25
Georgian hopes that if Mistral amphibious assault warships are sold to Russia, both countries – Russia and France will take account of the “existing threats”, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze said at Monday’s regular press briefing. She said Georgia’s position on this issue remains unchanged.

“We have expressed our attitude towards this deal several times already. Preliminary negotiations were going on between the two countries. Of course these negotiations are the sovereign decision of those two countries,” Kalandadze told journalists. “Georgia and not only Georgia expressed its scepticism about the threats that this deal might envisage,” the Deputy Minister added. She said threats exist because “it is about the country which carried out aggression against Georgia. So we remain sceptical about the deal.” According to foreign media outlets, Russia will sign a deal with France on purchasing Mistral on January 25.

Kalandadze also commented on the Council of Europe’s mechanisms against Russia, saying that the scepticism of society about Russia’s fulfillment of the demands of the CoE’s resolutions “is justified.” “We have expressed our protest several times, including at the closed door meetings and we hope that our calls and future mutual actions will lead to success,” she stated, adding that “several technical and judicial levers exist by which the CoE can influence Russia…However the Georgian side will not call on the CoE to start forcing levers. We still hope that Russia will show some prudence.” The Deputy Minister said that at the CoE Parliamentary Assembly Session the Georgian side is going to raise the issue of Russia’s not meeting its commitments.

Kalandadze touched upon the issue of Saakashvili’s recent visit to Armenia, saying that the Georgian side assesses it “positively.” She said Georgia has “big economic interests” in Armenia. “We have open borders with Armenia; travel between the two countries is absolutely simplified. However we are interested in increasing trade and economic turnover between Armenia and Georgia. If there are any technical mechanisms to simplify this, the sides will talk about them. However at this stage there are no technical barriers for travelling between the two countries,” she noted.

Kalandadze noted that the Larsi border crossing point was opened in the interest of Armenian citizens. “Georgia even carried out negotiations with Russia on this issue, in order to open Larsi. [This happened] primarily because of the interests of the Armenian citizens. We have discussed whether we can make any further assistance and the Armenian side raised several more proposals at the meeting of the two presidents, which we will take into account by all means,” the Deputy Minister stated.