Expert opinion
‘TONE OF FOREIGN PRESS CHANGED CONSIDERABLY’
13 December, 2012
‘Akhalaia’s release in return for ambassadors is inadmissible’

There is a smell of new provocation in the air in Georgia that is called ‘religious confrontation’. Our compatriot Christians and Muslims declare that instigators are trying to aggravate the situation. This way or that way the authorities didn’t have adequate and timely reaction; we may get a result that even the instigators of this escalation didn’t want or expect. The expert Kote Zhgenti hopes that the situation won’t aggravate. According to
him the authors of this artificial process don’t consider that interests of the country may be sacrificed to all this.
K.Z. – I don’t remember when the last confrontation between Christians and Muslims took place in Georgia. Nothing happens by chance. It isn’t possible that after so much time without confrontation the situation got aggravated in one of the villages or regions exactly when the powers changed. Out of simple logics questions arise why this happened just when new authorities came to power.
Previous authorities are now trying to save their selves. There are so many compromising materials, so many facts that if investigation goes deep, things will go bad way for them. For this reason they are trying to create small problems for the new authorities. I hope there will be adequate reaction on all this and the situation won’t be complicated.
Q. – The ‘Nationals’ consider that the compromising materials are fabricated. For instance, twice interrogated by Interior Ministry Vano Merabishvili thinks the ‘passport case’ is an absurd attempt of pressure. By the way, his former deputy Gia Lortkipanidze is also accused of having a passport issued on another person’s name. And people have many questions. Namely, if Merabishvili had a fake passport why did he hand it to the border guard exactly at Tbilisi airport?
K.Z. – It’s a fact that Merabishvili and his deputy had two passports and this was proved by border guard and law-enforcers. As for why Merabishvili handed it at the airport before flying to Armenia, it could be a provocation in order to raise Cain that the new authorities were creating obstacles to the delegation to leave the country. At the European Convention of Popular Party Merabishvili’s detention would be one of the main issues. This version has the right to be considered.
Q. – After the Parliamentary elections IRI held the first survey. According to it in case Presidential elections were held tomorrow 63% would support the ‘Georgian Dream’ candidate and 13% - ‘Nationals’. In your opinion, where did the ‘Nationals’ 40% that they had before October 1, go?
A. – We all know well that the 40% were gained through pressure, intimidation and blackmail. Only foreigners didn’t and even don’t want to believe this but they will have to. Actually, the ‘Nationals’ rating neither before the elections, nor the day of elections and even after it was more than 13%.
Q. – Bidzina Ivanishvili condemned Parliamentary Majority’s discipline and declared that there is no coordination between the Government and Parliament. In your opinion, won’t this ‘pressing’ cause offence and make crack between some of the members of Parliament that is composed of several parties?
A. – This declaration by Ivanishvili was timely. There indeed was no coordination in the work of Government and Parliament and it is obligatory for efficient functioning of authorities.
Q. – You said that the West changed its tone. Do you think this was confirmed by declarations made at NATO Ministerial and within the Commission of Alliance-Georgia?
A. – Yes it was, as they make no such declarations as they used to. This of course pertains to Rasmussen too. If you see his previous declarations the difference is obvious.
Q. – Ministerial in Brussels disappointed the President; he declared that there was a chance for Georgia to get MAP after the elections but no institutional progress was fixed in Brussels.
A. – In order to get MAP Georgia should bring to the end those institutional and military reforms that are obligatory for a NATO member state. At the same time, our relations with Russia and the situation connect ed with the conflict zones must come to the level that won’t hinder our membership in the Alliance.
Q. – As for the relations between Tbilisi and Moscow, according to Sergei Lavrov’s declaration, the rhetoric of Georgia’s new authorities doesn’t correspond to the desire of renovation of relations between the countries without pre-conditions. Can we say that the dialog may come to deadlock again?
A. – No. This process has just started. Russia will never take us as equal and will always try to look at us from above. We have to try to negotiate with Russia on a possibly equal level, especially on the vital for us issues. We mustn’t yield and cross the red lines but at the same time we must be flexible as much as possible in order to resume dialog with Russia. It will be a long process requiring time. I don’t exclude that Lavrov may make absolutely different declaration.
Q. – In UNO Georgia supported Palestine’s observer state status. The question why Georgia did it is being asked these days.
A. – It really seems better if we abstained. But on the other hand I don’t think Georgia’s support will cast a shadow on our relations with Israel or the occupied territories.
Q. – Yuval Fuchs, Ambassador of Israel to Georgia declared that his country is disappointed by Georgia’s decision.
A. – Ambassadors act according to their countries’ interests. Yuval Fuchs was obliged to make this declaration but I say it again, I don’t think Georgia’s position in UNO will affect Georgian-Israeli relations.
Q. – So far as we’ve touched upon the issue about ambassadors, Ivanishvili declared that in return for appointing new heads of diplomatic corps he is asked to release several inmates. According to available information Mikheil Saakashvili is asking to release Bacho Akhalaia.
A. – It’s an absolutely immoral offer and Ivanishvili must in no way concede to it. The ambassadors’ terms will expire. To release Bacho Akhalaia and people like him in return for the ambassadors is inadmissible
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