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Why is the U.S. ambassador speaking on behalf of the Georgian government, and should the Georgian government respond to Russia’s call?

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Gulbaat Rtskhiladze

Since the Georgian Dream came to power in Georgia, the Russian Federation has repeatedly offered dialogue to the Georgian side, but to no avail. A few days ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “If Georgia does not want to ‘play the Russian card’ in order to maintain Western patronage, and if it wants to live a normal life with us as neighbors, we are ready for that at any time”. The U.S. ambassador reacted to Lavrov’s statement before official Tbilisi said anything: “This statement should entail fulfillment of Russia’s 2008 commitments. I have not seen any steps in this direction; in fact, there are still flight bans and market restrictions. Until Georgians see a concrete step towards the occupied territories, statements coming from the Kremlin will not carry much weight.”

Why is the U.S. ambassador speaking on behalf of the government of Georgia and should the Georgian government respond to the call of the Russian authorities? – This question is answered by political scientists and a civil activist.

“The Georgian side is not really the Georgian side, because others speak for it – the U.S. ambassador is the fastest to respond to any proposal from Russia”.

Gulbaat Rtskhiladze, head of the Eurasia Institute:

  • Time and again Russia has taken the initiative to talk to Georgia, but this time the message came from the Russian Foreign Minister, and this is very important, and the Georgian government’s reaction is zero. Russia’s willingness to talk to Georgia means one thing: they do not want to take any drastic steps with regard to Georgia. They do not want to aggravate relations with our country, they do not want tension, they want to restore diplomatic relations. It is very interesting why Russia keeps doing this, since they used to hear one and the same from Georgia…

The Georgian side is not really the Georgian side, because others speak for it – the US ambassador is the fastest to respond to any proposal from Russia, no matter who said it or what official.

U.S. Ambassador Degnan looks comical, she gives very primitive and undiplomatic answers. That these statements have nothing to do with diplomacy is clear, and it is also clear that Degnan is being provocative. Her statements show that she is concerned that the ice between Georgia and Russia will break and relations will warm up. The cornerstone of American policy in the Caucasus is precisely to tear Georgia and Russia apart. In a construct in which Georgia and Russia can begin a dialogue and seek rapprochement, America will lose influence in our region.

  • So-called Western partners often tell us that we should talk to Russia, but when it comes to the matter, they clearly get in our way. An example of this is the statement by the U.S. ambassador following Lavrov’s offer to hold a dialogue…
  • Yes, the Americans are not satisfied with the settlement of relations between Russia and Georgia, they behave immorally, they are hypocritical. The actions of the Georgian government are also unserious, non-state and unpatriotic. Georgian politicians behave in an anti-Georgian way.
  • Still, does Georgia have any outlines for a conversation with Russia? The country’s prime minister has been acting boldly, so to speak, of late.
  • Garibashvili does what Ivanishvili instructs him to do. All his words and actions are pre-election populism that will cost Georgia dearly”.

“Refusal to have a dialogue with Russia is pouring water on the mill of Abkhazian and Ossetian separatists”.

Soso Tsintsadze, a political scientist:

  • In any case and in any situation I am a supporter of negotiations. Politicians that have position that it is all or nothing have no education, have not read anything and do not understand. I advise them to read Richelieu’s Political Testament. Even fruitless negotiation is better than being in a state of resentment all the time. I am very curious what the Russians want from us, why they call us to negotiations. Let our politicians go there, talk, tell us the current situation, and then we will all decide together what to do. Let them talk to the Russian leadership, maybe they will be able to solve the borderization problem, why should they wave their fists in vain from here? When barbed wire fences around the yards of our politicians’ luxury homes, will they be so inactive even then, will they not negotiate even then? – They will, and then they will sign any agreement.
  • Our government depends on the statements of the US ambassador…
  • If we are capable of refusing the loan, it is very easy to explain to Kelly Degnan that negotiations with Russia are necessary because we have already gone all the way and there is no alternative to dialogue. Also, let them ask the ambassador: if America itself is talking to Russia, why shouldn’t we talk!

The fact that Russia is so insistent on dialogue with us shows that we still haven’t lost face. They, not us, are asking for a meeting, so we should take advantage of this, someone smart should definitely go and at least find out the situation for us anyway. Georgia’s inaction and refusal to have a dialogue with Russia pours water on the mill of the Abkhazian and Ossetian separatists. It turns out that we are sulking because we cannot wage war?

  • Georgian politicians responded to the offer of the Russian foreign minister to negotiate by saying that before the return of Abkhazia and Ossetia this is impossible …
  • Such a conversation is like an ultimatum, which is unacceptable. No ultimatum, no preconditions, they have to go and negotiate and understand what the Russian government wants. If they tell us to forget Abkhazia and Ossetia and recognize their independence, then we will all put on our hats and turn away. And we will have something to say – we tried, but it did not work out. But we don’t do that! Since the Georgian Dream came to power, we have been invited to negotiate with Russia many times, but to no avail. It is interesting how Georgia will behave if Russia decides to take extreme measures. For example, it will declare that Georgia has Covid and will not accept the grapes from Georgia; or it will declare that the Crimean wine will also go well. What will the authorities do in such a case and what will they tell the Georgian peasants?

A tough stance is bad; the time for ultimatums is over, especially for countries like ours, which already have a lot of problems. If any profession does not tolerate dilettantes, it is, above all, diplomacy. A dilettante diplomat loses a country.

I was outraged when the “Patriots” went to the CIS Committee. They could have come to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Duma, but to the CIS Committee? – We are not a member of the CIS, after all. By going there the “Patriots” gave false signals and spoiled a lot and even failed to return the icon brought to Sukhumi.

If there is even one intelligent person in the country we should decide to go to Russia because the state needs this. To go there does not mean to recognize the superiority of Russia. There will be the UN General Assembly in the fall, this is a very good chance to prepare the details of the Russia-Georgia meeting there. The Assembly is the place for meetings. Take advantage of this opportunity, make preparations, involve diplomats and schedule a summit meeting. Georgia has no other way and way out.

“The U.S. ambassador is making us hostile to Russia, I wonder how she is going to get our territories back!”

Ardalion Haadze, civil activist:

  • If we don’t talk to Russia, we will be losers forever. Without talks we cannot understand what they want and they cannot understand what we want either.

The American ambassador, Mrs. Degnan, is making us hostile to Russia, I wonder how she is going to get our territories back?!

America has been our so-called partner for years, but no one thinks about returning the territories. Thanks to them, we don’t have an economy either. For 30 years America has been sending money to Georgia that is used for one thing only – to agitate against Russia. The money is not invested in Georgia’s development, it is used to enrich Georgian politicians.

Three people went to Russia and could do nothing. This happened because Russia was offered trilateral talks – Georgia-Russia-NATO, which is incredibly stupid. Georgia should talk to Russia without any ultimatums. We should go there and try to restore diplomacy, the railroad, the tunnel… Without Russia Georgia will not get stronger, without Russia the Georgian economy is doomed.

Talking in the language of ultimatums with Russia will not do Georgia any good. We must listen to our neighboring country and convince it that we are not enemies. Russia will not spoil our relations with America, we just have to convince them that we will not enter into military alliances.

I appeal to the Georgian leadership: go to Russia, talk to the leaders of the country, open an embassy, establish a partnership, strengthen the economy and then the Abkhazians and Ossetians will contact us. Georgians are starving, we are in a dump, and when this is so, who will want to live with us?! Have a dialogue with Russians and do not mention lost territories first under any circumstances, because when you talk about it your gun should be loaded, and we do not even have a gun.

Prepared by Eka Naskidashvili

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