27 October, 2011


Interview with Ramaz Sakvarelidze, political scientist

Bidzina Ivanishvili who has ‘moved’ from business to politics, is offering more and more novelties. The President keeps mum and Ivanishvili is left at a disposal of not so adequate remarks of National Movement’s small fry. We are discussing important political issues of the week with Ramaz Sakvarelidze, political scientist:


Q. – In one of his latest, extensive interviews Bidzina Ivanishvili spoke about coming to the Parliament with the majority of seats. Several political parties have

already expressed readiness to cooperate with him. How will the novice politician manage to distribute the parliamentary seats among the block members?

R.S. – One of the key factors bonding these parties at this stage is their being in opposition,  i.e. confrontation with the authorities and they are unanimous in this. I don’t think it will be easy to agree about the constitutional changes. As you know, Constitution is a complex document, comprising many issues. Those who desire to change it, will have to work hard. But it seems to me that for the time being the major task is to coordinate the political struggle and not the issue of dividing the meat of killed bear.

Q. – Polarization was also mentioned and it was reflected in Ivanishvili’s first letters. The businessman declared that after his coming to politics either he or Saakashvili should be supported. Probably, democracy urges us to suppose that among the voters there will be some who will support neither Misha, nor Bidzina but some third or fourth party – Ramaz Sakvarelidze or Dachi Grdzelishvili - in case they decide to come to politics.

R.S. – In case he manages to unify the political spectrum, the alternative will be – those who are critically minded regarding the authorities and those who are not. If for the elections opposition manages to consolidate as one structure, the model of alternativeness will leave no chance for rivalry inside the opposition. So, in this case ‘Dachi Grdzelishvili or Ramaz Sakvarelidze’ should be either with one side or the other. Bidzina Uvanishvili is heading in this direction and certainly there is political logic in this.

Q. – Saakashvili will try his best to drag Ivanishvili into street actions. The businessman-politician says that revolution and street are unacceptable words for him… The same was said during his meeting with the heads of accredited political missions. Will Ivanishvili manage to stay calm and retain respectability till elections?

R.S. – In order to come to elections he needs to solve the problem of citizenship, i.e. if he intends to participate in it. I don’t know how he will manage restoration of citizenship without the struggle that is called street actions. On the other hand there is one more moment connected with the street actions: we’ve seen for several times that the authorities are much more frightened, so to say, more mobilized during the street actions; they adhered to heavier propagandistic devices during street actions rather than during facing competition in election mode because they felt much more comfortable and safe here.

Q. – Absolute majority of diplomatic missions in Georgia attended the meeting with Ivanishvili. ‘Bidzina Ivanishvili is a comparatively new figure in politics. He made important declarations about the accusations allegedly put forward against him. We are watching everything very carefully and in case of need we’ll discuss it with the Georgian government’, declared John Bass the next day. Diplomatically speaking, does it mean that after this meeting the United States became convinced in reliability of Ivanishvili’s foreign policy?

R.S. – The United States agree to support anybody who won’t adhere to violence. Street action is specific but still it’s connected with violence. When categorically rejecting street actions Ivanishvili presumably is guided by this motive. Consequently, we’ve witnessed the whole diplomatic corps arriving at his door. As it seems, the US are sure in his person, legitimacy of his candidacy. Bass’s declaration implies exactly this. The West is always interested whether Ivanishvili will be an alternative political figure in Georgian political reality. Most probably they have seen such a figure. The expression of this was whatever has happened – so many high-ranking diplomats wouldn’t have come to meet an ambiguous person who isn’t even a Georgian citizen and who may have some dubious connections with a neighboring country.

Q. – The authorities are insistently accusing Ivanishvili in implementation of Russian project. But in his turn the transferred-into-politics businessman is publicly speaking about his foreign policy views. He criticized Putin’s being undemocratic; he also reiterated that neutrality for a country with the resources like Georgia is unreal and for us NATO still remains main objective. As confirmed by head of EU mission in Georgia, at the well-known NATO summit not giving MAP to Georgia was the result of Russia’s activity… Considering all this, isn’t the aim set by him a bit unrealistic?

R.S. – For Russia NATO membership of any country that is no more under its control and that hampers Russia’s relations with other NATO countries, being it bickering or trade, is unacceptable. Under this situation global processes develop in the direction of integration and not confrontation and I really see the prospects. For us NATO is an acceptable and desirable partner but it doesn’t mean that we can make a step in this direction right away. This detail wasn’t specified during the interview and I think that’s where the shoe pinches.


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