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Foreign minister responds to minority

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 20
Foreign Minister of Georgia, Maia Panjikidze, responded to questions posed by minority representatives on February 19. The meeting was requested by UNM members several times. However, due to her busy schedule, Panjikidze only managed to hold the meeting yesterday. The questions asked by the minority representatives were related to Georgia’s foreign policy course and the plans of the new government in this direction.

UNM MP Nugzar Tsiklauri asked a question concerning the prime minister’s Armenian trip where Bidzina Ivanishvili stated that Georgia should take the Armenian example into consideration. Tsiklauri asked Panjikidze how Armenia can be the example for Georgia when the country is allied with Russia and has never expressed its wish to participate to NATO.

Panjikidze explained that the prime minister’s words were regarding Armenian strategy.

“The country manages to find common language with institutions and countries that are in opposition of one another. In general, each country should try to have good relations with all countries and have balanced policy,” Panjikidze said and emphasized that everything is clear concerning strategic partners and Georgia’s foreign policy path.

“The Euro-Atlantic path is the choice of the Georgian people and not any political party…” Panjikidze stated.

Panjikidze was asked question why Ivanishvili refused to send a common letter with the president to NATO concerning Georgia’s hastened participation to the alliance.

The foreign minister responded saying that at that time, there was no cohabitation model established between the victorious party and the former government and underscored that in the future, if such a situation takes place, sending of common appeal would not be excluded.

Hearing the response, MP Akaki Minashvili accused the new government in actions that are unbeneficial for the country. Panjikidze answered that the new government is doing its best in the country’s participation in Euro-Atlantic structures.

“Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, will visit Georgia on February 24 and she will bring an action plan for visa liberalization,” Panjikidze said.

MP, Davit Darchiashvili asked the foreign minister to explain several points on the interaction document concerning Georgia’s foreign course elaborated by the Parliament’s Foreign Committee Chair, Tedo Japaridze.

“There are notes within the document that state Georgia should balance domestic and international interests; Georgia should not be a strategic player and Georgia should not be the topic of depute between the US and Russia. If Georgia is not a topic of disagreement between Russia and the US, it means that we will stand alone against Russia,” Darchiashvili said.

Panjikidze responded by explaining that the document was used for discussion purposes and the minority can also make some changes to it.

“My position is that the document should reflect Georgia’s national interests– de-occupation, Euro-Atlantic integration and establishing its place in the regional context. Georgia’s obligation is to fulfill international responsibilities and at the same time, take its own interests into consideration,” Panjikidze said.

Panjikidze was also asked concerning a mosque that is planned to be built in Batumi. The foreign minister stated that the Turkish trip was very important and many issues were solved successfully. She has underscored that each country should take care of their historical buildings belonging to other cultures that are situated on its territories and respect people for having other religious views.

“We agreed on the issue concerning the rehabilitation of Georgian churches that are situated on Turkish land. However, the agreement was not achieved at the expense of other concession from our side… The Azizie mosque will not be built in Georgia. However, taking into consideration the interests of other religious groups living in Georgia, another mosque will be built in Batumi,” Panjikidze said.

MP Goka Gabashvili responded that there was nothing new in the statements made by Panjikidze concerning the Turkish talks and mentioned that the construction of other mosques are planned in the country.

Pankijidze denied the construction of other mosques in Georgia and underscored that such statements were not even voiced during the visit to Turkey.