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Gulbaat Rtskhiladze: Unfortunately, we have not learned to think in terms of civilization, we are still nationalists with a narrow understanding

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Gulbaat Rtskhiladze

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to the November 28 on-line meeting between Zurab Abashidze, Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for Relations with the Russian Federation, and Grigory Karasin, Member of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation. According to the statement posted on the official website of the agency, the talks between the parties focused on two topics – the restoration of air traffic and the situation in the areas adjacent to the conflict zone, including the kidnapping of people:

“The sides discussed the prospects for the resumption of air traffic between the two countries, the terms of which are well known: the cessation of anti-Russian protests in Georgia and ensuring the security of Russian citizens…. We hope that the Russophobian rhetoric revealed by radical circles during the election campaign will be a thing of the past.”

The statement also said that the events of June 20, 2019, following the visit of Russian Duma Deputy Sergei Gavrilov to Tbilisi during the session of the Inter-Orthodox Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi, were the clearest manifestation of anti-Russian policies and attitudes by some destructive forces, Which requires an appropriate approach by the state (without which the agency considers it impossible to restore air traffic), although the statement does not specify when the process of air traffic recovery between countries can begin or what is being done at this stage to speed up the process.

For note: The so-called  pro-Western opposition (mainly representatives of the United National Movement and European Georgia) called the above statement provocative, which, it turns out, is another clear manifestation of anti-Georgian policy. However, no less critical and harsh statements were made against the Georgian authorities, including the traditional accusation –  “Russian agent”.

Gulbaat Rtskhiladze, the head of the Eurasian Institute, talks about these and other important issues whether there are Russophobian  attitudes in Georgia today, what forces are trying to create this attitude and what are the prospects of the Abashidze-Karasin format of talks between the two countries.

– Mr. Gulbaat, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued an official statement stating that one of the conditions for the resumption of air traffic between the two countries, Russia and Georgia, is “Cessation of Russophobian   manifestations in Georgia …”. There was also  a topic about so-called provocation of Gavrilov’s night and the subsequent events … What is the message for Georgia, is there a Russophobian  attitude here and what forces are behind all this?

–  Let’s start with the fact that all of this already causes a kind of deja vu feeling, since the same thing is constantly repeated, and the result is zero. If we take the format of Abashidze-Karasin or Karasin-Abashidze, it does not give anything, it has been 4-5 years, they are beating one place. In general, any statement made within this format, be it after the meeting or before, as the Russians often say, is “next ordinary phrases.” That is all, the process can not go beyond that, that is a fact. However, after each meeting, a kind of political fuss begins here. Mr. Abashidze comes out and speaks as if he is a hero, as if he has asked some questions in principle and so on. Why, to whom, or what he is talking about is unclear. Once every two to three months, this format reminds us, but not of news, but of old texts that may have been memorized somewhere on the computer and released with minor changes after meetings. As for air travel, it almost made no sense. Tourism has been disrupted for a year due to this pandemic and can not be restored to its old capacity for a long time … By the way, I do not want to deviate from the topic, but here I will briefly touch on one very important issue, on which our so-called The pro-Western political spectrum and the media do not pay attention. An agreement has recently entered into force on the provision of pensions to citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union – labor migrants – which is, in fact, a historic agreement for the member states of this union. In particular, what does it mean? For example, a citizen of one country, for example, Kyrgyzstan, works legally in another member state of the Eurasian Union, say, Russia, and pays taxes, which, of course, include pension contributions of at least one year of service. At retirement age he has the right to claim a Russian pension. Do you understand what we are talking about ?! This person is also considered to have worked in his country and receives a double pension … The question arises – while we are waiting to join the EU and we hope that our citizens will be able to work there legally, which, of course, is a complete illusion, would not it be better to look a little further? And think about integration into this Eurasian Economic Union?

– You probably remember that Ivanishvili said about a year ago: the Georgian economy can not create 2 million jobs in 10 or 20 years, so people have to go abroad to work, some will work in Kutaisi, some – in Munich …

–  In Munich, sorry, you can not work … I saw this before with my own eyes, what a day people are at the German embassy, ​​where a line of unfortunate young people stood and almost all were coldly rejected – crying girls, unhappy boy … I’m not saying anything in the queue you can not take a place, you have to sit at the computer for hours and click to register with difficulty … This is, in fact, a torment of people and in most cases ends in the refusal of the consulate. Therefore, Mr. Ivanishvili has a false hope that he will reach an agreement with Europe and, if he fails to create jobs here, some part of the citizens will be employed in Europe. Our people are illegal there, and their fate hangs in the balance. Recently, I saw a lot of Georgians at the Istanbul airport, who were forcibly returning from Europe to Georgia. As for sorting out relations with Russia again and the fact that it is vital for Georgia, I think neither Karasin nor Abashidze are  needed to see all this, we  need a normally-minded government, which we do not have and, apparently, will not have …

– Against the background of all this, what is the future of Georgia? What will be the policy of the country today?

– I have said many times through your newspaper and I will repeat again that I am very skeptical about the future of our country. Our people are doomed to extinction. It will probably take 30-40 years … I do not want to say, but I think nothing will come of it unless a serious authoritarian system is established. Dictatorship may be necessary, but this is probably not real, because today we have neither the military nor any elite. Today everyone is a frame, a merchant, a moderator and a gambler. I am not saying anything about cynics   who for some reason were called politicians.

Unfortunately, we have not learned to think in terms of civilized categories, we are still nationalists of narrow understanding. Look at the processes going on around it – Turkey and Azerbaijan say they are one people in two states (i.e. they are striving for unification and who do they have in the middle?), The EU is talking about cultural unity, Russia is gathering Eurasian peoples around it. There is an emphasis on Orthodoxy and the Eurasian, i.e. on traditional values ​​… Where is Georgia ?! Georgia is out of all contexts, we are, in fact, hanging in the air, because nowhere, in any geopolitical context and conjuncture are we discussed …

– What about striving for Euro-Atlantic structures? Is this the main guideline according to the course declared by the government? By the way, in this context, the “pro-Western” political forces today have certain hopes for Biden. They believe that the new administration, unlike Trump, will do more to reduce Russia’s influence in the South Caucasus …

– I think the agitation that erupted in our society over the American election, I mean the fans of   Biden and Trump who blew up social networks, is one big tragicomedy. Calm down, friends, neither Biden’s arrival will bring anything special to us, nor Trump’s departure, since the system in which we are,  will not be changed. In the case of neither Trump nor Biden, Georgia will not be integrated into NATO, just as it will not be in the European Union and living conditions will not improve. As for the fact that American troops, including warships, come here from time to time and carry out certain actions, I think the agitation and assessments that it turns out that NATO is proving to us some unprecedented support is a normal political performance. Is anything added  for us by this? They will stay here for several days,  arrange some trainings as provided by the relevant international convention, and  it will go back again. This is a reality that cannot and will not be changed. Well, neither dreams  nor things are blackened by expectations, but the country is facing a bitter reality: With this reality and data, the future of Georgia is in question, with this reality, Georgia is, in fact, a country without prospects   unlike other countries in the region, which have somehow found their place and role in the world geopolitical context.

Interviewed by  Jaba Zhvania

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