U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Russia is a top story in the Georgia media sources as expectations are high in Tbilisi that Georgia will be among the issues raised during the meetings with the Russian leadership.
The national television stations opened their news bulletins with the story, accompanied by live link-up to their correspondents in Moscow and main Georgian newspapers run front-page articles on the matter. An article in the largest Georgian weekly, Kviris Palitra, has a headline “PutinObamaMania”; the daily Rezonansi runs a front-page article with a headline “Obama, Medvedev and Georgia” and the daily 24 Saati – “Principled ‘Reset’”.
Stories on the matter mainly cover expectations of Georgian analysts and politicians with most of them saying that Georgia will not become "a bargaining chip" in the U.S. “reset” policy with Russia; the U.S. officials’ recent remarks on the matter and upcoming trip of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Georgia and Ukraine later this month are cited to back up the argument.
“We are not in any way, in the name of the reset [of relations with Russia], abandoning our very close relationships with these two democracies, Ukraine and Georgia,” Michael McFaul, the U.S. President’s special assistant and senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council, said on July 1.
Philip H. Gordon, U.S. assistant secretary of states for Europe and Eurasia affairs, said in Tbilisi on June 10, that President Obama would raise Georgia during his meetings in Moscow.
“I think that the President will bring up Georgia in his discussions with Russia… Georgia is an important issue for the United States, so I think the President will raise it and we will make clear that we do stand by Georgia’s territorial integrity and expect that Russia to implement all of its agreements on Georgia,” Gordon said.
In an interview with the Independent, President Saakashvili said that he hoped the U.S. President would choose his words carefully in Moscow.
“If Obama says something that looks like some kind of permission for something, then they will go for it. That's why every word counts. You are dealing with Byzantine traditions and doublespeak with Russia, which is hard for the West to understand,” Saakashvili said.