- ‘If Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream is a Georgian project, everything will be alright’
Georgia and Ukraine have “strategic” cooperation and both countries face “the same threat,” said Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, who visited Ukraine in mid-June, in an interview with the Ukrainian weekly newspaper Zerkalo Nedeli.
Asked if he was hesitating to visit Ukraine against the background of refusal of many European leaders and officials to arrive in Ukraine because of authorities’ “persecution of political opponents,” Vashadze responded that he had no hesitation.
“As far as this formulation ‘persecution of political opponents’ is concerned, it is not my business to comment on internal political situation of a sovereign state,” Vashadze was quoted in the interview, published on June 22. “I was not hesitating at all when I was intending to visit [Ukraine]. In the beginning of this year I have agreed with my [Ukrainian] colleague Konstantin Grishchenko that I would pay a visit in Ukraine in June. As a rule, our foreign policy course corresponds with the one of the European Union and the United States. But there are differences too and our partners know about it very well,”
He said that relations with Ukraine were among those differences. “Georgia, first of all, has its national interests. Second: we have strategic alliance with Ukraine. Third: we have common history. Fourth: Georgia and Ukraine face the same threat… to our sovereignty and independence,” Vashadze said.
“When plans about creation of Eurasian Union are being announced in Russia – and people who talk about it, as a rule, are used to keeping their promises – everyone understands very well that it [Eurasian Union] is about transformed Soviet Union; to be more precise, it is about political and military aspects of this collapsed empire. For that reason, strong, stable and prosperous Ukraine is a vital necessity for Georgia,” Vashadze said.
He also reiterated Tbilisi’s claims that Russia’s planned large-scale military exercises Kavkaz-2012 were timed deliberately to coincide with Georgia’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for October. Vashadze recalled that Russia held in North Caucasus similar military exercises just ahead of the August, 2008 war.
He said that Georgia “is an absolute necessity” for the Russian leadership, which he described as “LLC Kremlin Inc.”, because of several reasons and among them he listed: Moscow’s aim to cut off alternative energy transit routes to Europe; control over the entire South Caucasus; undermining Georgia’s reforms, which “annoy” and “irritate” Moscow; undermining Georgia’s NATO integration.
“Reason behind this policy is that the Kremlin tries to restore the Soviet Union. This is a declared political goal… Any military-political complication in the region – Nagorno-Karabakh, Iran – can serve as a pretext for [Russia’s] military aggression [against Georgia],” he said.
He also said, that military confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh “will bury sovereignty and independence of all three South Caucasus states” and expressed hope that OSCE Minsk Group would be able to defuse recent tensions in the region. He, however, also said that “third party” was trying to derail Minks Group’s efforts and to keep tensions in the region.
Asked about upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia and Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition Georgian Dream, Vashadze said that elections in October would be “exemplary.”
“If financier and businessman Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream is a Georgian project, then everything will be alright. If the Georgian Dream has roots in Moscow and if it is a post-election project, then there will be complications. But in any case, elections will be held in an exemplary way in Georgia,” he said.
“These elections [both this year’s parliamentary and next year’s presidential elections] should turn into a watershed; these elections should strengthen Georgian political elite and should ultimately demonstrate to the world that Georgia is a democratic state, not a transitional one. If these elections are held as we want, excellent prospects will open up for Georgia,” Vashadze said.