Home Georgia Can Zurabishvili Conduct a Direct Dialog with Russia If She Becomes President?

Can Zurabishvili Conduct a Direct Dialog with Russia If She Becomes President?

Gulbaat Rtskhiladze

In line with  approaching the elections, indications of an unofficial candidate of the “Georgian Dream Saloma Zurabishvili made with the massmedia  that in case of presidency a priority task of her policy will be  regulation of relations with Russia and searching for  a common language with the Kremlin, have already created  certain  moods in a considerable part of the population .

Expectations that this favorite of oligarch is able to pursue a right policy for discharging the many-year tension between the two countries, born a that the State starts to will move on the path of  fundament irreversible changes. Some hopes  and expectations are on place owing to the fact as well that in parallel to negotiations with Russia, emphasis   is made on a direct dialog with Abkhazians and Ossetians too; that this may create prospects and necessity to put an end to the enmity between the brotherly nations, that for a long time is an unconditional requirement of the Georgian society. However, how   and  by which  tools a new president will implement it  in terms where the foreign-economic policy of the country remains  unchanged, is unknown. In any case, the “governmental candidate” is not in a hurry to explain and, only superficially talks with the massmedia on her plans. What will receive Georgia if Zurabishvili becomes the president and what  what is a probability of expectations of fulfillment of her promises regarding Russia – this are the issues discussed by the director  of the “Eurasian Institute” Gulbaat  Rtskhiladze in his interview with “Geworld” .

– Mr. Gulbaat, Salome Zurabishvili factuially built her pre-election campaign on a circumstance that  a priority of her policy will be regulation of relations with Russia. What do you think about his opinion? What are the real resources of Zurabishvili?

-, I think that   a factor that the Georgia’s foreign course is not changed and only faces are another, is mainly conditioned by the politics of  Russia, because, today the Kremlin  is factually inactive towards us and pays no attention to Georgia. Now , somebody can say that there were some movements that may be assessed as a step forward, e.g. restoration of trade relations, but, the fact is that we did nothing more during this six-year period .Of course I agree with a view that opening ther market by Russia and somplification of visits is a great economic relief for us, because, when the country is in crisis and  the wester Georgia is almost destroyed by “Parosana”, while the eastern part – by hail, winds and frost our population could remain without a source of exitence if not the Russian market

As to your question  whether Zurabishvili holds resources, I can say that on the background wee heard in the past, I mean representativ4es of the government with their aggressive rhetoric towards Russia,  the promises of the most realistic  candidate for nomination regarding regulation of relations with Russia are to be welcomed, to more so that she considers this topic a priority. But, here one factor arises:    earlier we have similar expectations with Ivanishvili too and, you may remember he was declared as “Russia’s man” by a “liberal media”. However, neither before nor later  nobody proved that Ivanishvili was “Russia’s man”  Of course we do not want to have a president who will be  somebody’s  man or woman – I imply external forces. But, the fact is that in the current situation, a political stability with Russia is a necessity

-, And, is it the society’s order?

-, I tried to shift  this interview just to this direction, yes, it is the society’s requirement first of all and,  the pre-election rhetoric  indicates on it,  that regulation with  Russia will be a priority .By the way, earlier Margvelashvili also made   a statement which included indications on starting dialogs with Russia and that it is a public requirement. Imagine, even a figure like Margvelashvili  declared frankly  that the Georgian society wanted  from the country’s authorities to start dialog with Russia. For these words he occurred under terrible criticism by side of the pro-western liberals. As to Zurabishvili,   I think she will be more bold and ambitious president. Probably nobody requests her to be unconditionally obedient like in case of Margvelashvili  from his political guarantor, but, we must not have expectations that she will commit some political miracles. Besides, Georgia is of a second row  importance for Russia, since its main attention is shifted on quite another direction – Syria, Ukraine, church-related issues. Of course it should be welcomed that a readiness is expressed for starting dialog with Russia, on this background of the anti-Russia hysteria that lasts for years. So, this is a really positive factor

– It is clear that on a personal level Zurabishvili may be more ambitious  and bold president, but, a foreign political conjuncture that was somehow limited Margvelashvili in a dialog with the Kremlin  officials, remains unchanged. Can it be a restraining factor for Zurabishvili?  

– By the way, I always considered  unfair  a cynicism and irony just only towards Margvelashvili because he could not or did not want to meet with Vladimir Putin . Why? You may remember Irakli Garibashvili’s visit to Baku, as I remember it was in 2014 during the Youth Olympic Games. He was in one space with Putin,  could easily meet him and talk, but he did not even look at  that direction   but then stood back to the Casino director called by locals as Monaco Prince ./This is an example of principle of our political spectrum, s it was not only Margvelashvili’s  political complex

As to the foreign factor, to say frankly I am far from the idea that the west limited out government, and as if otherwise ours were ready for the dialog. Yes, there were some directives, but when a man is in two steps from you and you may come to him handshake, say hallo  – nobody  restrict,  of course if yourself are not complexed politically. Thus, let’s not to accuse America and Europe  in everything as “liberals” accuse Russia. By the way, if any pressure and influence were by former US Administration  on the Georgian government  regarding Russia, today any such pressure is removed. Moreover, the new US Administration has not time for Georgia, several months has already elapsed after the end of the term of office of the US Ambassador to Georgia, but, nobody is appointed. This indicates   the priorities are changed even in the USA  and, on this background, if we have a normal government we could not be a subject of confrontation between Washington and Moscow , vice versa, we could serv  as an areal for consents and negotiations between them. By the way, this could be appreciated even by Russians and, I am sure the west also could have nothing against, but unfortunately,   during the last several year we turned into the insecure, right-lost country  and nobody is interested in our views, including in the moments when our future and fate must be decided. This is our current tragicomic reality that is well  seen and clear  regardless how it can be packed by this or that party or government.

Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania 



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