On the background of an extremely tensioned military-political and diplomatic relations between Iran and the USA, which has changed considerably a geopolitical agenda in the Middle East, a part of both Georgian and foreign experts started openly talking about certain expected risk for Georgia. Some of them make a bold emphasis in their assessments on an uncontrolled flow of refugees in case of the ()that may create serious problems not only to Georgia but to all three countries of the Southern Caucasus)), while others see a main threat in the terrorism and, urges official Tbilisi as the main supporting point of Washington on the region, to follow maximally cautious policy. However, despite such suggestive evaluations which are more or less close to the reality, the government of Georgia has not still expressed its position towards any of such expected threat.
We’d like to remind that there has been two-direction visa-free travel between Iran and Georgia for four years and, any Iranian nationality may arrive in Tbilisi without barriers. According to thee official statistics, in Tbilisi only, a prevailing part of real estates are purchased just by Iranians. Therefore, considering the fact that the visa-and0imigration office does not exist practically in the country, the exact data regarding a total number off Iranian nationalities in Georgia, is unknown . . .
What is threating for Georgia in the Uran-USA confrontation, what kind of complications this process may cause and, what is a policy the Georgian government should follows in response to all the aforementioned? – these the topics discussed with us by a human rights defender Dimitri Lortkipanidze.
-, Batono Dimitri, on the background of confrontation between Iran and the USA, different experts and analysts more and more frequently assess that this may be dangerous for us too. They say about uncontrolled flow of refugees, terroristic attacks, economic loss etc. What can you say about all this?
– Probably all agree with us if say that a idle east looks like a barrel full of gunpowder and that Georgia cannot still cannot find its place in this this very complex geopolitical landscape . As to the Iran-related issue particularly, I can say that Iran still maintains active trade-end-economic relations with Georgia and not only such relations, despite the fact that the situation becomes tensioned day-by-day. He we talk about the economic crisis as well hat, in its turn is dangerous for us too . . .
– What do you mean here specifically?
– First of all, I mean the migration-related threats, certain preconditions of which for this exist for a long time. For example, it is alarming that today, in Georgia, 134 thousand residential apartments belong to Iranian nationalities and, prevailing part of this real estate is located in our capital city. It means that Iranians have peen preparing for active migration processes during years
As to the fact that we have still maintaining a visa-free travel with Iran, I think it is a very big mistake of and threat to Georgia. The Parliament of Iran has adopted a resolution saying that they will fund by 200 MIO USD all diversions against the US objects at any point of the world . . .
-, So, you want to say that diversions may take place on the territory of Georgia as well?
-, It is possible of course, because the territory of Georgia, i.e. the region that is geographically neighboring with Iran, is one of the most important and convenient point for attacking to the US objects which may be dispositioned here. By the way, at early 2012, special services of Iran had the attempts to provoke diversion in Georgia against the Israeli Embassy but, in that time as a result of effective actions of Georgian (and especially Israeli) special services, the said diversion was stopped. However, as seen it was not the last attempt of Iran and, considering the current situation when Iran factually declared “Holy War” under slogan Death to America!” against Washington, it is natural that a risk of terroristic acts is increasing. As to the visa-free travel, I have already mentioned above that I can repeat now too, that it was a very big mistake in that time, but now it contains even a special threat to us. Therefore, taking into account our security, we’d better to move to visa regime with Iran I think that this step, in addition to reducing a probability of terroristic acts, will serve as a prevention of stopping the use of Georgian territory for narco-traffic
– What is preventing the Georgian government for making such the step? Are there any restricting factors?
– It is a really interesting and reasonable question, but the government does not or cannot answer it. Why? – They must answer this question. But, a circumstance that during the last years the Iranian nationalities enter the Georgian territory without control, purchase our land, houses and apartments by reason that they want to reside in the areas as if long ago lost by Iran, is alarming. And, on more important fact: In February 2018, president Hassan Rouhani in one of his announcements criticized the Kajars Dynasty and declared that because of betrayal policy Russia seized Georgia from Iran. It means that Iranians pretend on Georgia and, the imperialistic attitude they had during centuries, is still on place. So, a natural question arises: What a political strategy has the Georgian state power to balance this approach? How should we respond at least on a diplomatic level when hear such a hostile and colonial rhetoric? In fact, Iran says we are not a State.
– Let’s turn back to the developments having taking place in the Middle East . Many individuals think that after the missiles attack implemented against the American military bases. weight and influence of Iran has increased considerably on the international geopolitical arena. Do not you think that this makes more realistic the Tehran’s imperialistic intentions towards Georgia?
-, The situation in Iran we are observing currently, is an attempt of the USA to substitute there the current regime by another one, however, in this course the important think the USA wanted was to overturn influential military-and-political leaders which are the main fundament and moving force of the Iranian theocracy. These are leaders of the Corps of Guards of the Islamic Revolution and General Qasem Soleimani. Today, when Soleimani is not alive, Washington of course will use the principle – no man no problem and, bring case to its end. By the way, it was not incidental when in one of his speeches Trump mentioned that Iran as if has been creating serious problems to the development of the democracy over the world since 1979 . but added also that Iran was achieving certain successes in the diplomatic arena but was failing in the wars. I think such reverence to and highlight of the diplomacy indicates that just now, after the death of Qasem Soleimani the USA plays its main card and that this is an attempt of starting the top rank diplomatic talks in which the European leaders too will also be involved actively . . .
– And, what do you think, what will be a result of it?
– I am sure very serious changes will soon start in Iran. But, for us the most important is whether these changes will be implemented on account of interests of several countries of the region, including Georgia. Unfortunately I see already that this is quite expectable, if not started and, lots of circumstances indicate on it, including 134 thousand real estates As I have already mentioned above, plus granting the right of residence to thousands of Iranian nationalities through fictious marriages, that is noting another but borderless loyalty of our government towards the imperialistic politics of Tehran that was in the past expressed in adopting the visa-free regime with Iran in response of Tehran’s request, etc. So, I repeat: All this is a part of a big deal that is being implemented by efforts of the USA and, we’ll see soon the hardest results of such policy for Georgia. . .
-, And, where is a way out ? How should Georgia oppose to this process?
-, Unfortunately, all ways are now cut for us because of the inadequate policy the Georgian government pursues to this end. A clear evidence of this is that during the years we thought as if some reforms are being implementing in the country, however even one serious step was not made by view of improvement of our relations with Russia. Nevertheless, I think certain possibilities still exist and, in case of a right policy significant shifts are real. By the way, one more thing is important here on which I do not know why, but nobody talks in the political and analytical circles: On 29 August 2018 the Frame Agreement between Georgia and Belarus entered in the force, which implies harmonization of number of legislative directions. The most important article of the Agreement relates to cooperation of special services. Soon after enactment of this document, an agreement was entered between Russia and Belarus, which also implies close cooperation in many important directions, including air transportation issues, trade, customs-tax legislative issues, etc. Imagine, what does it mean: We execute frame agreement with Belarus and, at its turn, Belarus executes also a very important document with Russia. I think this is a possibility of creating a new space for our direct dialog with Russia and, if we say today how Georgia should guarantee its security (and not only military but economic and political, as well) then we must use maximally this new opportunity. Otherwise, it seems to be very difficult to preserve stability ad keep peace in the region where the current situation is too dangerous. . .
– What do you think, the current government of Georgia has some at least political resources for conducting direct dialog with Russia?
– Today premier Giorgi Gakhartia may play the most important role in conducting this process. But, a fact is that he has lots of opponents on this path. By the way, I have a certain expectation that the first informal meeting between Gakharia and Putin will necessarily take place at Davos Economic Forum hat will be a very significant event for us, and an impulse for further top rank meetings between Russia and Georgia . . .
Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania