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Georgian PM talks to Russia Today

By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, December 4
“Georgia must develop incrementally, step by step to prepare for the European Union membership,” Georgia's new Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said in his interview with Russia Today. He pointed out that Europe is the choice Georgian people have made and the only right way to follow. Therefore, the government is ready to face and overcome the difficulties that will occur on the way to EU integration.

In his interview, the PM spoke about Georgia’s EU and NATO membership plans, possible ways of normalizing relations with Russia and the Sochi Olympic Games.

Gharibashvili made it clear in the interview that Georgia will not send a government delegation to the Sochi Olympic Games. The Georgian delegation will only include athletes and representatives from the National Olympic Committee.

“We held discussions on this issue, whether or not Georgia should participate in the Olympics. The government made a decision that Georgia will take part,” the PM said.

Speaking about the Georgia-Russian relations, Gharibashvili said that the Georgian government is willing to hold dialogue with Russia. However, it is still unclear whether Moscow is ready to do the same. “Now when there is actual willingness to reset our relation and create a means of direct dialogue, it is incomprehensible why they would continue this borderization process, installing barbwire so intensively,” Gharibashvili said.

According to the PM, the government has failed “to achieve tangible improvements in relations with Russia.” However it has to be noted that there are successful improvements in trade relations between the two countries.

“I am quite optimistic about this issue – if the Russian government one day decides to reset relations with Georgia by means of peaceful conflict resolution, it will be the best case scenario,” the PM said. He explained that the government is not going to compromise and give up its Euro-Atlantic aspirations while trying to normalize relations with Moscow. Instead, the PM plans to try and “succeed in convincing Russia” that Georgian integration with NATO cannot possible pose a threat.

The PM was asked to comment on the economic situation in Georgia and the opinion that the country is backsliding and investors’ interest in Georgia has been decreasing. “I totally disagree about an economic downslide. Let me remind you that the economic downslide – if we can refer to it as downslide – started as early as 2012, that is, under the previous government,” Gharibashvili said, adding that the previous government managed to accumulate a vast amount of external debt for Georgia and the country will have to pay an estimated 800 million USD in 2014.

Gharibashvili spoke about his cabinet and about the huge responsibility he had to take before his people and former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili. He said he had never expected to become the head of state and his current position was a big surprise that life had offered him.

“To me, an office or position does not imply luxury. Neither is it a matter of honor or fame. One’s position implies responsibility more than anything else,” Gharibashvili said, stressing that it is the duty he has assumed before his country and people.