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Saakashvili pleads for Russian dialogue in Newsweek interview

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 14
"I am ready to start dialogue with Russians any moment; however Russian side refuses to do the same"- President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili stated in his interview with Newsweek, on September 13.

“Russia has occupied 20 percent of our territory. Russia keeps embassies not in Tbilisi but in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They refuse to deal with our elected government. We are willing to talk to Russia at any moment about anything, but they haven’t been willing to get into a bilateral dialogue. Now they’ve deployed S-300 (surface-to-air) missiles to Abkhazia, “the President stated.

According to Saakashvili, leaving Georgia defenseless without military aid will not help the situation, “Leaving Georgia defenseless doesn’t help the situation. Georgia can’t attack Russia, while a defenseless Georgia is a big temptation for Russia to change our government through military means. Every time Vladimir Putin has run for president, he has gone to war. It looks like he will run for re-election, so of course that worries us. As part of the ongoing security cooperation, we hope that the U.S. will help us with defense-weapons capabilities. But I don’t think there are clear deadlines for anything here, “Saakashvili mentioned.

The chance of a military attack from Russia on Georgia has decreased, however we can not be completely calm, reported the President, “We want to avoid any conflict, but Russia might be planning something. Right now there is less of a threat than we had one year ago. What helps here is the improved U.S.-Russia balance. But it’s not a done deal; we should all be vigilant.”

The President also talked about American-Georgian relations and underlined that Georgia is openly supported by the US, “So far, we’ve been getting support from Washington. I think it’s most encouraging that at every high-level meeting, America has been raising the Georgia issue. Hillary Clinton just described at the last meeting Russia’s presence in Georgian regions as an “illegal occupation,” which is dramatic in diplomatic terms. So I don’t agree with the assumption that there is a de-linking, “Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili’s statements concerning dialogue with Russia are unrealistic, representative of the Labour Party, Nestan Kirtadze told The Messenger, “Such statements from the President are imposed because of two reasons. The first is international pressure. International society pushes the present Georgian society towards dialogue. The second is the short sighted foreign policy carried out by the present authorities that brought the country to the conflict and the tense situation we have now. I do not wait for the Russian authority to agree with the dialogue, as they consider the present Georgian authorities as military criminals; they openly state this and refuse collaboration with them. Holding dialogue and restoring relations with Russia will be made possible by the new Government of Georgia, which will be elected trough free and democratic elections in the country, “ Kirtadze stated and added, “ Mikheil Saakashvili is not taken seriously by the international community and he is frequently regarded as extraordinary and unpredictable leader. His latest statements have also been short sighted, regarding confederation with Azerbaijan and so on. Georgia cannot be the member of any confederation as this will damage military-political balance in the region. Georgia is the key of the Caucasus and it should always be a balance keeper in the region. Based on the present reality, Russia and the United States are trying to solve their problems before their future elections and they do not need confrontations, thus soon there will be no place for such politicians as Saakashvili who, by his activities creates danger for Georgia, region and the international society,” Kirtadze said.

As Petre Mamradze, member of the oppositional Movement for Fair Georgia stated for The Messenger,”We welcome dialogue with Russia. I have frequently mentioned that negotiations with Russia should start, this is the demand of the Georgian people as well, as different public polls held lately, have revealed. Our authorities have stated several times that they are ready for dialogue without preconditions, however at the same time they raised demands, like the occupation of the territories, which can be considered as the condition. If they continue like this, no dialogue is possible,” Mamradze stated.

Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger, that there will be no positive moves in Georgian-Russian relations unless both countries realize and admit their mistakes, “There are two great weaknesses on both sides and a diagnosis is necessary so appropriate treatment may be carried out. In actual fact it is important to clarify the real reason why Russia attacked Georgia. What provoked this attack? The main characteristic of the Russian-Georgian confrontation is lies. Both sides have made mistakes yet both sides avoid admitting their mistakes. Should that process continue, real, positive moves in Russian-Georgian relations cannot be expected,” Tsiskarishvili said.

According to analyst Nika Chitadze, “It has been frequently mentioned that Georgia was, or is, in political isolation. I have always stated that Georgia was not in political isolation, this is the fact. We still have working relations with NATO and the European Union and the West and the United States are also expressing its interest and support to Georgia openly, “Chitadze told the Messenger.