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Awkward situation as Georgian leaders meet

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, August 13
President Mikheil Saakashvili and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili appeared together on Sunday evening at a reception on visiting the United States Navy Destroyer USS Bulkeley, which is making a four-day port call in Batumi.

The U.S. guided-missile destroyer Bulkeley arrived on Saturday morning in Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi.

The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi stated that the warship arrived for “a regularly scheduled port visit that will include combined training exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard.”

PM Ivanishvili stressed that the U.S. warship’s visit to Georgia was symbolic of the close partnership between Georgia and the US.

“This is a friendly visit. The US has been standing with our country since Georgia gained independence. Our country is creating a modern armed force with the assistance of the U.S.,” the PM stated.

In his speech, President Saakashvili shifted the attendants’ attention to a different issue and raised concerns about the PM’s possible alliance with Georgia's enemies.

“The Prime Minister said that we meet the fact that barbed wire fences are being moved at several locations across the South Ossetian administrative boundary line with calm. For those people who have been deprived of their land it is difficult to accept such statement calmly,” Saakashvili said, adding that he was in Ganmukhuri (a village on the Abkhaz administrative border) several days ago.

“Of course I am not calling anyone for going into war with anyone, especially with Russia, but we should spend less time on confrontation between each other on the international arena,” Saakashvili said.

The president loudly commented on the PM’s recent statement that Georgia carries some responsibility regarding the August War in 2008.

“I strongly reject that Georgia bears any responsibility for the August 2008 War and I want to categorically tell you mister Bidzina, I hope you will think on this issue…” Saakashvili said.

The remark was responded to by the PM when he said that “Georgia bares no responsibility and that Saakashvili is personally responsible for the events.”

Saakashvili replied that “the one, who says it, either does not love Georgia or has other problems or is in alliance with Georgia’s enemy.”

Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili stated that he “will have to apologize for certain statements made by the president.” According to him, Saakashvili pushed forward off-topic issues when such meetings have rules and a format.

Usupashvili said that that cooperation with the U.S. is of vital importance for the country and that the event was politically important.

The U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland suggested that the message of the ship’s visit was very simple. “For over 20 years, U.S. has been supporting maritime security in the Black Sea. Bilateral cooperation with Georgia's Armed Forces is successful. It will continue in the future to maintain peace in the region,” Norland said, stressing that the cooperation with the armed forces of Georgia is successful.