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Vashadze addresses Georgia's political challenges

By Ernest Petrosyan
Monday, June 25
The Russian military drills planned for Autumn 2012 do not just arbitrarily coincide with the upcoming Georgian parliamentary elections, said Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze in an interview with the Ukrainian journal Zerkalo Nedeli.

"Ahead of Russia's intervention in Georgia in 2008, Moscow also conducted Kavkaz 2008 drills. This year Russia is going to conduct even larger drills close to our borders, and this event will indeed accidently coincide with our elections," said Vashadze.

The Georgian FM assumed that Georgia is absolutely necessary to Russia. “Firstly, LTD Kremlin Inc wants to cut alternative energy routes to Europe. Secondly, if Russia achieves military and political dictatorship over Georgia, the rest of the South Caucasus states will not need any care: “You close the bottle neck, which contains our sovereignty– the rest of the states in our region are deprived of access to the Black sea,” said Vashadze.

Vashadze continued, explaining that the Kremlin is tired of hearing annoying positive references to Georgian reforms. In addition, Georgia’s independent foreign policy is also irritating for Russia, as it considers Georgia its “internal garden.” Especially when it comes to the alliance; it's like the red scarf for a bull.

Continuing on the topic of Russian-Georgian relations, the Georgian Foreign Minister firmly responded that Georgia is not going to refuse NATO membership for the sake of the restoration of diplomatic ties with the Russian Federation. "It [NATO integration] is the choice of our people, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that Georgia becomes a full member of NATO in a historically short period of time. We need NATO membership to secure the policy course of building a democratic state with a market economy," Vashadze said, adding that Moscow is paranoid about it.

Asked on what terms Georgia is ready to restore diplomatic relations with Russia, Vashadze said that terms should be based on the universally-recognized norms and principles of international law, namely de-occupation, recognition of territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty and the rights of our people to determine their foreign policy. Vashadze said that the president gave its approval to Russia’s accession to the WTO. If not our will, no one would have forced us to sign a protocol with Russia, he said.

Among other points, Vashadze stressed the recent events that have occurred in Nagorno-Karabakh. “God save us from a new Armenian-Azerbaijiani war – it will bury the sovereignty and independence of all three South Caucasus states. I sincerely hope that the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group will lead to an urgent discharge. But the third force is actively working to ensure that the Minsk Group does not reach any progress, and that tensions along the ceasefire line persist as long as possible,” said Vashadze, implying that the Russian Federation is the “third force”.

During the interview, Vashadze was asked about the problems in Georgian-Azeri relations and then flatly denied that there were any. “We have issues that require constant attention and hard and quiet work. Any tantrum only prevents it. There is an issue about the monastery complex David Gareji. But, the Georgian-Azerbaijani commission is working on the delimitation and demarcation of the border. While the commission works in a quiet and friendly atmosphere, tourists have unimpeded access to the entire monastery complex,” Vashadze concluded.