Perpetual check in Georgian politics
02 December, 2010
Perpetual check in Georgian politics

‘It seems Georgia will not be an obstacle to Russia’s WTO accession any more’

Why the population gathered in front of the Parliament when from the outset it was clear that the aim was unachievable? At any rate, the speakers at the rally were expected to talk for the sake of talking, only to dismiss the rally in the evening, pledging further actions of the sort.


On the other hand, provocative steps of the Government were likewise devoid of logic as

long as they raised public transportation tariffs and cut off utility taxes. If we add to these a truly impressive speech of Georgian President at the European Parliament which caused seven rounds of applause among the MPs, we would come up with an interesting but quite dreary anatomy of events. Namely, both Europe and Obama’s America agree that it is better to have Russia at least at a loose end of the stick then to have it outcast and at loggerheads. So the West will definitely be happy with Saakashvili if the latter manages to continue its control over the situation, give up warmongering against Russia and stick to democratic enlightenment even with microscopic increments. This theory is a subject of our discussion with culture expert Zaza  Shatirishvili:

Q: Last week we witnessed a significant event for Georgia. The NATO summit was followed by the session of European Parliament where the audience repeatedly applauded to President Saakashvili for his magnificent speech on peace and dialogue with Russia. On that, Russia immediately returned the favor in the form of its vote given to Georgia during the selection of a future youth Olympics host country at the polling in Belgrade. The move contrasted recent forays of Georgia against Sochi Olympics.
A: Today we are very busy with a foreign factor. If we look at all these from the angle of the Lisbon Summit, an interesting picture will emerge. One of result of the Summit is the factual recognition of Russia by Europe as its constituent part. Moreover, borrowing Saakashvili’s pathos, the following article is the first of its kind that was written in the NATO history: NATO is not an enemy of Russia; the program being developed by the Alliance basically espouses “the NATO plus Russia” principle. This means the end to the Cold War and a new vector of the 21st century. While the 20th century featured confrontation of capitalism and socialism, the 21st century will be that of north and south, that is, Euro-American civilization and – to be at least slightly discrete in wording – radical Islamism.
Saakashvili’s Brussels speech was very important. What was its main message? No attack on Abkhazians, Ossetians and Russians. In fact, he gave an oath that he would not violate peace and most importantly, he is ready for unconditional negotiations with Russia.
Obama is not willing to caress Saakashvili because of Russians. Nor is he supposed to slap him to avoid unnerving Republicans. As American experts aptly point out, they have invested large enough resources in Saakashvili. Our situation resembles a perpetual ‘check’, if we use a chess terminology.
It seems Georgia will not be an obstacle to Russian WTO accession any more. This conclusion is supported also by the opinions of western experts. By the way, Russian support for holding youth Olympics in Tbilisi fits the context logically.

Q: There were equivocal comments made at the popular representative council. Some say it was another defeat of the opposition. Others call the rally held in front of the Parliament a victory of the opposition. What do you think is really going on in Georgian politics and generally in the public?
A: People crave for radical actions but do not see their right implementer in the opposition. This means the situation may get out of control any moment. Only one thing may prevent the explosion. This is the sort of economic reforms which would improve social conditions of the population.
It must be noted that it was right in the eve of the rally when the Authorities announced their notorious decisions to increase transportation fee and enforce utility tariffs, as well as to introduce new penalties and alike.
We should consider one fact frequently talked about by western experts. The social conditions would worsen yet further in the next year when the Government would have to start core debt repayments. Besides, that period will coincide with the completion of the 4-billion aid package. Expenses would grow yet more in preparation for the Olympic Games, which however look more like a political game at this pint. So we’d better wait and see.
In a situation where the rage of the population spread to hit the opposition, we may expect social explosion any time. Nonetheless the rage against opposition is of a temporary nature. The moment the right force emerges and plays by the mood of the population, this rage will hit back the Authorities again.

Q: What if the rage is incited by a foreign country? How the force you mentioned would manage to both play by and control the mood of the population? As a rule it is impossible to have the jinni return to its lamp during social explosion.
A: We may not have any idea about this force, just like the final outcome of the process escalation. Given the current precarious situation, so high number of the protesters on the streets is the most serious omen of the coming danger we talked about slightly earlier.

Q: The words of Russian journalist - Leonid Parfionov – generated a wide resonance in the world media. It is also a fact that he does not quite see sings for alarm in the quality of the Georgian media and generally democracy in Georgia.
A: Your statement led me to recall an old Soviet joke: American and Soviet journalists are having an argument about which country has more freedom of speech; the American said that in America any can take to a street and swear against Reagan. The Soviet opponent quickly responded saying that the American version is just nothing because anyone can swear against Reagan on no less than the red square, in front of the Kremlin.
It is a completely different story if the Georgian democracy is higher than that of Russia just because any one can freely criticize Putin in the Georgian media in contrast to Russian media. But what would happen if one day the Russian journalists who are churning out praise-loads towards Saakashvili change the mind and start swearing against him instead?

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