What plans does Gazprom hold?
10 September, 2010
What plans does Gazprom hold?

Russian code in Baku-Tbilisi-Ceihan Plan

According to the Western media, Russian Gazprom eyes Baku-Tbilisi-Ceihan pipeline. This news suspiciously coincided with the emergence of Georgian-Azeri confederation idea that President Saakashvili came up with recently. We talked to political expert Ramaz Sakvarelidze on this and other topics:

Ramaz Sakvarelidze: To be frank, I used to be on the same wavelength with many Georgian experts by believing that the idea of the Georgian President was not to be taken seriously. Now though my

position is somewhat different in the light of certain new circumstances. A little time ago, I read an interview of Azeri and Armenian experts on this specific topic and found a number of interesting points in it. Namely, the Azeri expert - like his Georgian colleagues – took the topic rather lightly. The Armenian expert however took an extremely interesting stance on the matter. He recalled the meeting of Caucasian experts during which they all recognized that the best solution for the Caucasian conflicts had to be the creation of the confederation. Armenians meant not only conclusion of the relevant Baku-Tbilisi agreement but also creation of the extended confederative unity incorporating Baku, Tbilisi, Erevan and conflict regions such as Apkhazeti, Samachablo and Nagorno Karabakh.
Incarnation of this model – a union of states and separatists on equal rights – happened more than once in recent history. In the past, Russia also proposed something similar. Re-introduction of the idea – this time by Armenia – prompts us to believe that it is no more utopia and fruitless juggling of the words, especially for those interested in the change of the Caucasian political scene. Thus, the idea emits different tones today. Although Saakashvili mentioned only Baku and Tbilisi, the idea could be caught and expanded as far as to consider all the subjects of Caucasus as members of such union. If this is the context behind the idea, essentially we may spot a Russian code between the lines, further implying existence of natural Russian tendency for the control of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceihan oil pipeline. In this scenario, Russia would undoubtedly feel committed to the role of the Caucasian patron and to the control of everything in the region including the subjects which are out of its realms for the time being. Eventually we would witness emergence of the new political picture in the Caucasus, the way Russia is craving for since long time ago.
Q: Last week UNHCR was distraught at the non-transparent and non-informative way in which the IDPs were expelled from their residences. This story almost turned into an international scandal. On the other hand, Per Eklund - Head of EU Delegation in Georgia – said he had not received any letter from the Republican Party and that the news spread in the press by the Republican Tina Khidasheli served only the purpose of collecting weight points. Does it mean the West distances itself from the opposition?
A: Typically the West does not show any warmth towards the Georgian opposition. I don’t know which side is right in this story. I do not doubt Mrs Tina Khidasheli did not “shoot” in the empty space. One thing is clear that citing certain facts perhaps will be unrewarding in the future also unless one achieves preliminary convergence with specific western representatives on certain points.
Q: Mikheil Saakashvili was sharp and aggressive on the opposition during the Governmental meeting. He termed the last year’s opposition rallies as fundamentally anti-State, anti-national and anti-Georgian even though they ended in nothing. Has the President been finally convinced in the impotence of his political opponents?
A: No wonder Saakashvili has these feelings. He won every round and confrontation with the opposition, be they elections or street actions. Regarding his views on the rallies, he had similar attempts, albeit indirect, in the past too. Perhaps you remember Prime-Minister saying investments were on the decline and the downward trends in the economy were to be attributed to the rallies. Of course, permanent protest actions in the country are not in the least a sign of stability likewise affecting the country as a whole. Then again, why not dissolving the reasons behind the instability in the first place? The opposition should not be alone to bear political responsibility. Why demanding from the opposition to be attentive about investment climate when you – the Authorities – do not feel compelled to dispel the roots of the political crisis in its budding stage?
Regarding the notion of patriotic motifs, it is non-relevant because whatever frequency and acuteness manifestations may have in the West, nobody calls their activists traitors and nobody accuses them of perpetuating dirty job against national interests under the orders of other. Several years ago, demonstrators burnt down nearly a half of Paris. Nonetheless Sarkozy, then the Minister of Internal Affairs, never came to utter a word about patriotism. Even worse was the situation in Greece. Yet, nobody blamed the demonstrators for going against the national interests. It was actually the other way round, in such situations they try to find a common language and solve the problems that brought demonstrators to the streets.
Q: Adoption of the new Constitution remains a bone of contention. It appears Saakashvili decided to finish with rumors about his intention to remain in power after the end of his presidential term: “I am not going to become a presidential candidate again, even though in many countries this sort of referenda does take place, and it is easy to do it in Georgia also”…
A: It is hard to palpate the bottom of his words. For sure, he is sincere when asserting easiness with which this can happen in Georgia. The remaining part of his message however leaves wider space enough for double interpretation. Are we supposed to think that the man will not do what he can easily do or he is hedonistic in seeing how people suffers from the no-escape dilemma to accept whatever the Authorities suggest.
Q: The former world leaders descended on Georgia these days. Do you think their visit may change anything in American-Russian relations or at least their attitudes toward Georgia?
A: Russian-American relations and positions are governed by other – more practical tenets. By saying practical I imply there is no more place left for perestroika romanticism. It’s a matter of cohesion between what is real and what is pragmatic. Hence, I doubt this type of conferences is capable of raising a strong gust of political wind. However, it is indeed still pleasant Georgia found itself in on the route of this international symposium. This aspect proves once more that Georgia is an important country on the post-Soviet space.


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