Expert opinion
RASMUSSEN’S VISIT AND PROSPECT OF ENTERING NATO
17 November, 2011

Interview with Lado Papava, member of the Academy of Sciences

Last week NATO Secretary General and members of North Atlantic Council visited Georgia. Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with the students at Tbilisi State University where NATO General Secretary revealed excellent knowledge of not only diplomacy but of Georgian literature as well. According to his assessment, the next Parliamentary elections will show whether there is democracy in Georgia. ‘In order to achieve the goal you’ll have to demonstrate the same zeal as

your peers did 8 years ago. It’s very important for the country’- declared the guest and named Ilia Chavchavadze an inspiration for the youth. We discussed this and other important issues with Lado Papava, an economist, member of the Academy of Sciences.

 

Q. – How do you assess Rasmussen’s declaration?

L.P. – Rasmussen said that the executed reforms are effective. He also said that Georgia is facing a big test during the coming elections. The phrase that NATO’s door is open for Georgia, that geo-politically Georgia is a member of Euro-Atlantic space is right but whether it’ll become a member of Euro-Atlantic organization depends on many things, including the future of NATO, its vision and the processes undergoing in Georgia. Thus, NATO’s door isn’t closed for Georgia. Rasmussen’s and his colleagues’ visit to Georgia was very important – NATO once again confirmed its support but if we are unbiased our NATO membership is a matter of rather distant prospect. Leave alone everything – we may pursue democratic reforms, hold fair elections but we have the problem of territorial integrity. Facing occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia and declaration of their independence, we have such a choice: either we too have to declare independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, draw our border-line there and agree this issue with all our neighbors and then the NATO’s door will open wider for us; but if we don’t choose this way then, quite naturally, NATO won’t desire a member that has territorial problem with his neighbor. Famous Russian expert Dmitri Trenin, a political scientist of pro-Western orientation and director of Carnegie Center Moscow Office who has a very critical attitude towards Russian authorities, at a conference in Paris put the issue as follows: In case Georgians want to enter NATO what’s the problem – recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, draw the border line and the road to NATO will be open.

Q. – ‘Agreement between Georgia and Russia envisaging monitoring of goods was signed. The same is true of memorandum of mutual understanding between Georgia and Switzerland and Russia and Switzerland according to which Switzerland will be included in the process as a third party’, declared Sergi Kapanadze, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs while commenting Russia’s WTO membership. What will this actually bring to Georgia?

L.P. – Russia’s accession to WTO was in everybody’s interest. Consequently, our rigid attitude to this issue would create difficulties, concretely in relations with our strategic partners. International monitors are positioned at Transdniestria border too. It is the same scheme. At the same time it is to be considered that Transdniestria hasn’t been recognized by anybody. Thus, using of this scheme in Abkhazian and South Ossetian section means that Russia actually agreed to the model that is working in unrecognized Transdniestria. By doing so Russia has diminished independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia recognized by her. Any way, it’s a step forward for us. Judging by common sense, Georgian side didn’t have a better variant.

Q. – Albeit a bit complicated but still a new formula of pension-rise was presented by the President. As it seems the factor of novice-in-politics billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili is working and becoming even more actual…

L.P. – Even if Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili didn’t come to politics the government would any way resort to its characteristic populism. So, we needn’t connect everything with emergence of Ivanishvili on the political arena. But social topics have indeed been intensified. At the same time, the ‘National Movement’ lacks professionalism and thus makes mistakes. First of all it’s obscure why the pension- limit was set at 67 years. What must the women do who already reached the pension age, say who are beyond 60? They will have to wait for 7 years. Why have they announced the pension-rise that has to be enforced from September 1, ten months prior to the date?

Q.- The list of monthly charity carried out by Ivanishvili’s charity fund was published in Georgian media. It became known that besides restoring of churches and museums and other construction projects Ivanishvili was issuing grants for arts, sports and science.

L.P. – I’d note that personally I as a member of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia receive GEL 500. We mustn’t forget about the blow delivered by the ‘Post-Rose-Revolution’ government at Georgian science by abolishing a number of scientific institutions. Unfortunately, representatives of some media who made unhealthy ado about the mentioned grants willy-nilly brought grist to National Movement’s mill!

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