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Russia is not interested in annexing de-facto regions-PM claims

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 13
The Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili assures that Russia is not “interested in annexing” Georgia’s breakaway regions. The PM made the statement for BBC World News in London on June 11.

“We stated we wanted to normalize relations with Russia and just a month ago, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia confirmed that Russia does not intend to interfere in Georgia’s association agreement with Europe,” Garibashvili said, adding that returning Georgian wine, mineral waters and agricultural products back to the Russian market has positively affected the two countries’ relations.

Gharibashvili claims that Georgia’s case is “unique, completely different from that in Ukraine.”

Explaining the uniqueness, the PM stressed that on the one hand Georgia is striving for Euro-Atlantic structures, and on the other hand it is regulating relations with its northern neighbor.

He also underscored that Georgia’s EU aspirations do not conflict with the country’s efforts to normalize relations with Russia.

“A peaceful and stable Georgia means a peaceful and stable region. I think everybody should be interested in peace and stability in the region,” Garibashvili said.

Gharibashvili focused on Georgian-United States and NATO relations as well. He reiterated that Georgia’s way towards the EU and NATO was "irreversible”. The Prime Minister stated that Georgia has obtained very close ties with the United States, recalling his last visit to the states. Commenting on NATO, Gharibashvili stressed that the organization sees Georgia’s merit to the alliance.

The coalition Georgian Dream MP Giorgi Volski states that despite multiple critical statements from the opposition side, the current Georgian government’s course is positively assessed by foreign allies. He claims that Georgia should have normal relations with neighboring countries.

The United National Movement leader Zurab Tchiaberashvili says that the statement made by Gharibashvili “undermines Georgia’s national interest and creates a threat for national security.” The MP states that the current government is afraid to call Russia an occupant. “Through such statements the international community might think that Russia is no longer the enemy of Georgia and weaken its support of our territorial integrity. The scenario meets Russian interests only,” Tchiaberashvili says.

The head of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, states that an aggressive policy to neighbors is not really acceptable. However, Georgia should openly and loudly comment on Russia’s occupying intentions and various attempts of violating borders.

The Head of Georgia’s Reforms Associates, Sergi Kapanadze called Gharibashvili’s messages as a “fundamentally wrong vision.” According to him, Russia might create serious threats in terms of the breakaway regions and economics.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told The Messenger that the Prime Minister’s statements in terms of the occupied regions were presumably “correct.”

“In case if the Premier had stated that Russia is intending the annexation of the breakaway regions, Russia would have demanded evidence and accused the current government of gossiping. Making statements without any evidence from the officials’ side is not beneficial for state interest,” the analyst states. Sakvarelidze suggests that speculations on decreeing international attention are not serious as well.

“Ukraine is in the focus of international attention. However, the fact did not work for the country …we should be reasonable in our statements to not irritate Russia until it is the right time for this,” Sakvarelidze said.