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Vashadze plays down talk of Georgian products returning to Russia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, July 8
Georgian-Russian relations, the return of Georgian products to the Russian market and the recent issue regarding the Georgian Orthodox Church, have been the main issues the Foreign Minister of Georgia, Grigol Vashadze covered in an interview with Ekho Moskvi, on July 7.

It was revealed during the interview that, based on the current reality , Vashadze could not see any perspective in Georgian-Russian relations, “we have several times expressed our desire to meet with Russian officials in any place, at any level, without any precondition and that normal dialogue should be launched. However, on the other hand, Russia has consistently stated that they will not speak with the current Georgian authorities. I am sure that they will say the same towards any democratically elected Georgian Government, “Vashadze, said and mentioned when the Georgian authorities took the responsibility for the non use of military forces, while Russians dismissed the move as mere propaganda, “based on all this, currently, I can’t see the perspective , however if such perspective appears I would be a very happy man .”

Despite frozen political relations, economic ties and negotiations, the return of Georgian products to the Russian market has been the subject of heavy speculation “there are no negotiations regarding Georgian products' return to the Russian market between our country and Russia, “ the Foreign Minister said, “there are no negotiations, just enthusiasm. Opposition member Kakha Kukava , who somehow decided that he can earn some capital from the issue met with mister Onishchenko (Russia’s top medical authority, Genadi Onishchenko ), from time to time .” He also confirmed the Georgian Government’s position regarding the issue, “if we talk about Georgian products' return to the Russian market, in this case this is the issue of the Russian side and Georgian businesses as there is no state enterprise in the country which produces agricultural products, mineral waters or wine.”

The last section of the interview was related to the most topical issue in Georgia, meaning amendments to the civil code allowing religious minority groups in Georgia to be registered as legal entities of public law, “the Georgian constitution ensures that all Georgian citizens, regardless of their religious views to have a right to practise their religion and the Georgian Governnment is obliged to satisfy the demands of all Georgian citizens“. On the question of what had caused discontent in the Georgian Church, Vashadze responded that after talks with him and some other authorities, dissatisfaction will very soon reduce significantly.

Apart from the permanent claims that the Georgian authorities are unable to rule the country accordingly and solve the political problems, mainly related with Russia, now all opposition parties in the country blame the authorities for its unacceptable attitude towards Georgian people and the church. Moreover, based on some opposition parties, if Georgian –Russian relations were the main challenge of the country, now the current decision regarding religious groups could be taken as the main challenge for the country, “ by this decision Georgian authorities are fighting with fire, “ the statement of the Republican party reads. Based on them there have been a lot of issues which must be taken into consideration while making such a serious decision and large scale discussions must have been held around the issue, “,” by this decision the authorities have one more time proved that they are unable to solve the issues based on Georgian and Georgian people’s interests. This may be one of the greatest challenges against the country.”

Some analysts think the situation in connection with the religious minorities may stir nationalist feelings in the country, " Such a situation may case a nationalistic disposition in our country. The government only promotes such nationalistic outbursts. It tries to shift the attention to the nationalistic approach and xenophobia, and in turn to make oneself, against this background, to look a liberal force. It tries to destroy the nationalistic stereotypes in our society. This is a provocation, which is promoted by government. The government tries to make this theme a subject of discussion. To use the possible nationalistic outbursts for the discrediting of the Church and their opponents," analyst Irakli Sesiashvili said.

As for relations with Russia, most of the analysts share Vashadze's attitude, that currently they can't see any scope for improved relations or dialogue. In terms of Georgian products returning to the Russian market, as Analyst Nika Chitadz told The Messenger , "If Russia becomes a member of the World Trade Organization (and the chance of this exists) , this issue can be set in the agenda. The consultations can also start even without this happening, however in this case, meaning Russia's participation to WTO, such negotiations are most likely."