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Foreign policy implications in the governmental reshuffle

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, July 12
In appointing Vano Merabishvili as Prime Minister and making changes in the government, major ramifications to the social welfare of the country must be considered. In all of the changes, there were almost no comments made about the territorial integrity of Georgia or foreign policy issues, neither in regard to Europe or Russia. Some commentators have mentioned that Vano Merabishvili would presumably be the most acceptable leader for Russia.

Analyst in Caucasus issues, Mamuka Areshidze, explains that by appointing Merabishvili as PM, the current Georgian administration is conveying a very special message to Russia. Other analysts believe that Merabishvili is precisely the person who can initiate and regulate relations with Russia. He has many individual contacts in Russia. Of course anyone with common sense should welcome taking steps towards the regulation of relations with the Russian Federation. Many think so in Georgia and even Georgia’s western partners and allies have suggested it to Tbilisi multiple times. Medvedev and Putin refused to communicate with any Georgian leaders so far.

However, Merabishvili could make a serious break-though in this direction. This is a very essential issue since the leader of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has promised the Georgian people to regulate relations with Russia. So, by Merabishvili’s promotion– if this is a promotion at all– the ruling authorities can claim that they also have resources available to rekindle dialogue with Moscow. However, some analysts still doubt that the Russian leadership is ready for direct dialogue with Georgia.

Overall, one can see in the statements made by Merabishvili that NATO and the EU remain the priority orientation for Tbilisi. However, the continuation of Georgia’s NATO aspirations does preclude a “re-set” of relations with Russia. Georgian analysts still hope that the EU, US and other international actors’ pressure will eventually force Russia to begin moving towards the de-occupation of Georgian territories. However, time is needed for such moves.