The messenger logo

Saakashvili: Russia returns to the past

By Messenger Staff
Monday, March 12
President Mikheil Saakashvili’s visit to Azerbaijan from March 6-7 highlighted the future prospects of further cooperation between the two countries. But in his speech to the Azeri Parliament, he also touched upon the "Russian issue". Saakashvili labeled Russian politics as having no future, and aiming to return to a past that is out of alignment with the modern world.

This was his third official visit to Georgia's neighbouring country. The first visit was in 2004, when Georgia was in the aftermath of the Rose Revolution. His second visit occurred in 2009, after the Russian invasion. His third visit is marked by Putin's return to the Russian Presidency. Putin’s message before and after the elections was his desire to recover the Eurasian space and create something analogous to the EU with Moscow at its head. Yet this would be an alliance that looks little like the very modern European Union – rather, it would be more akin to last century's Soviet empire.

During his visit to Baku, President Saakashvili severely criticized Moscow’s plans, calling it a build-up of Russian imperialistic traditions that will have no results, as nations of the former Soviet Union do not want to give up their freedom and independence. Saakashvili emphasized that for Russia, it would be better to have strong neighbours rather than unstable vassals; better to have partners rather than enemies. The President also predicted that the creation of such a union would be frustrated, and that Georgia would never become a member of such an amalgamation – but that it does want good relations with its neighbours. Saakashvili also stressed that Georgia is willing to restore diplomatic relations with Russia if only the latter country withdraw its military forces from Georgia’s territory. He stated once again Georgia's interest in integrating in the EU and NATO in the future, and included Azerbaijan in that dream.

However, not everyone in Azerbaijan liked Saakashvili’s remarks. Azeri MP Fazail Agamaly said that Saakashvili has undermined Azeri-Russian relations. “Let Saakashvili control his country’s relations with Russia and not drag Azerbaijan into the adventure,” he commented.

Of course, Georgia is responsible for its own foreign policy, but Russian imperial ambitions are dangerous no matter how "good" one's relations are with that country.