Vyacheslav Kovalenko, the Russian ambassador to Georgia, said that he did not intend to offend, when he said that Georgia was “a dying-out nation” in light of growing globalization.
His remarks, made last week at a meeting of the Russian-Georgian Friendship Union, prompted an angry reaction from Georgian politicians.
“Statements of this kind from any diplomat are utterly inappropriate,” Gigi Bokeria said on September 24, “especially from a representative of the country, which is pursuing an aggressive policy and is the moral and legal inheritor of the Soviet Union, which really tried hard to achieve the extinction of the Georgian nation, but failed.”
“Maybe, certain forces in Russia really want to see the extinction of the Georgian nation, but this will not happen,” Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said. “I would advice Mr. Kovalenko to think about Russia and its own demographic problems and we will take care of Georgian problems ourselves, including the demographic ones.”
Meanwhile, dozen of Georgian students protested outside the Russian embassy on September 24, angered at Kovalenko’s remarks and demanding he apologise.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry has even summoned the ambassador to explain his comments.
“There was no intention to offend the Georgian people,” Kovalenko told reporters after his visit to the Foreign Ministry. “On the contrary, I was just saying that there is a huge [demographic] problem in Georgia which needs to be urgently addressed.”
He also said that his comments had to be seen in their full context, which was a speach on democratic problems in general. He admitted that Russia faced similar problems as well.