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Saakashvili on Polish-Georgian Ties, Electoral Reforms

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, July 28
Georgia is waiting for the Polish people, the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said at a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Bronislav Komorowski, stressing “special” ties between the two countries. “I want to mention that he [President Komorovski] is not only a guest of the Georgian president or of any Georgian official, but he is a guest of all Georgian people, because if anywhere in the world there is the most pro-Polish nation, Georgian people can claim this title,” Saakashvili said.

Meanwhile Komorowski said the sympathies between Georgia and Poland are based not only on a historic past, but on the last 20 years’ of cooperation. “We should further strengthen relations between our countries. The eventual aim of all this is Georgia's integration into the EU and NATO. We will do our best for Georgia to become a member of this family,” he noted.

The Georgian leader hailed Poland’s latest reforms and its foreign policy, saying that the Georgian side is “closely observing” Poland’s relations with Ukraine. “We think that the relations that Poland is establishing with Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan are very important,” Saakashvili said, adding that Tbilisi is watching “with interest” the development of events in Belarus. “We understand the problems that this country is facing but at the same time we know that asserting that Russia is a more democratic state than Belarus is absurd.” According to the Georgian president, unlike Russia, Belarus is not occupying its neighbouring states.

“Carrying out the isolation of Belarus, as usually happens, is a direct attempt to end Belarus’s sovereignty and to put the country under current Russian government’s total control,” he said, adding that it is “inadmissible and counterproductive for Europe’s long-term development.”

Some Georgian analysts have said Saakashvilis’s supportive statement towards Belarus aims at maintaining political support in the international arena. “I’d point out two aspects in Saakashvili’s statement – an international policy and an assessment of democracy. As for the first point we can agree with the president on this and the best example of it is Iran,” analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze said, suggesting that an isolationist policy towards Iran had turned out to be “counterproductive.” “As for the second aspect, it is a fact that the Georgian government has a special relation with Belarus and has certain political interests, as well as economic ones, as far as Belarus is one of the important transit lines for Georgia. At the same time, it is not that easy to maintain support in the international arena, as Georgia is very dependent on the outside world and we can explain the president’s statement [on Belarus] with this fact,” the analyst said.

At the joint press conference with the Polish president, Saakashvili touched upon the political situation in Georgia, saying that recent agreements of the opposition and the ruling party over the election code amendments had been an “important turning point.” “In line with the demand of the opposition we agreed on something that I don’t really like personally – increasing the number of Parliament members. I do not like this fact, but changing the electoral system was one of the main demands of the opposition,” Saakashvili said “I know that the party of my Polish colleague, on the contrary, demands decreasing the number of MPs in Poland. Unfortunately things happened vice versa in Georgia… It was our compromise with the opposition, because we want such an electoral system, where the results are legitimate and maximally reflects the interests of the whole spectrum of Georgian society,” the president added.

Opposition politician, Davit Usupashivili, who was involved in the election code amendment negotiations and who left the working group due to disagreements over the final draft of the document said that the group of opposition parties working on the election code amendments have never demanded raising the number of the MPs. “This issue was raised by the ruling authorities themselves in March, when they laid out their own proposals. We refused this proposal for many reasons,” Usupashvili said.