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Moscow unhappy about Saakashvili’s televised statements

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, February 3
Moscow has criticized Saakashvili’s statements in terms of Russian-Georgian relations made during his televised Q&A session on January 25. In a comment posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website, the official representative of the Ministry, Alexander Lukashevich claimed that the Georgian President’s recent statements give grounds for casting doubts about the substance of his peace initiatives. “Mr. Saakashvili literally called on every Georgian to meet next year in Sukhumi, stating that Georgia is in a state of war with Russia and yet again made rude statements towards the Russian Federation administration,” Lukashevich stated, adding that the Georgian government is “continuing the line of further worsening relations with Russia.”

The Russian official said the security concerns of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali in terms of a “direct threat from Georgia” are “legitimate.” “After such statements of the Georgian President it is hard to continue serious discussion of the issues related with establishing trust and the return of the IDPs, envisaged by the Geneva discussions,” Lukashevich noted in his comments. He claimed that the real mood of Tbilisi does not coincide with the pledges made on the international scene in Strasbourg and other Western cities.

“With the efforts of the Georgian leadership, the situation in Geneva is frustrated yet again. Considering this fact, it is obvious that the main priority at the Geneva talks is still the issue of security of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and giving them guarantees of non-use of force from the Georgian side,” the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry said. He noted the issue will be taken into consideration during preparation works for the next round of Geneva talks scheduled for March 4. He expressed hopes that the international community, including the UN, OSCE and the EU will give “adequate assessment of the current situation and support Russian Federation’s efforts for strengthening a still fragile security and stability in the region.”

In his live question and answer session, Saakashvili named Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin as the “biggest invader of Georgia since Shah Abbas. He commented on the possibility of dialogue between Tbilisi and Moscow, saying that “it is impossible to hold negotiations with the side which has a mentality of a reptile – with an open mouth ready to swallow a small country.”

“The more distance you keep from the crocodile and the swamp where it lives, the sooner you will get to the promised land,” Saakashvili said, referring to Georgia’s breakaway regions. The Georgian President noted that he is looking forward to the time when he won’t call Russia “an enemy.” “Someone who has broken into your house, who has expelled your citizens from their houses, and kills them, is called an enemy in both human and judicial languages,” Saakashvili said, adding that he will stop calling Russia an enemy only when “Georgia is freed.”

As for the statement about “next year in Sukhumi”, which caused the criticism of the de facto leaders, as well as of the officials in Moscow, Saakashvili said “the Jewish people used to always say so ‘next year in Jerusalem…” all Georgians, all residents of multiethnic Georgia, including the Greek, Armenian, Ukrainian and Estonian people, who have been expelled from their own houses, should say “next year in Sukhumi…” I will repeat this phrase until we return to our home,” Saakashvili noted. However, at the same time he pointed out that a plan on returning to Abkhazia should be based on “patience, and on the country’s development and enhancement of stability and security.”