26 January, 2012

Coming year will be significant for Georgia from domestic as well as foreign political point of view; we are facing - on the one hand, the elections in Georgia and on the other, tense pre-election situation in Russia with Putin trying to speculate on national feelings of Russians. In addition, there is a probable American-Iranian military confrontation in which Georgia will presumably have its big or small role to play, that in its turn, will become known after Obama -

Saakashvili meeting. We are talked with Mamuka Areshidze about the fate of Georgia: 


Q. – Anti-missile system was mentioned by Putin as a motif of confrontation. Do you think the threat of Russian military aggression can be a real reason why Putin so openly began speaking about the August war motives?

M.A. – By the way, if we recall the pre-2008 war period, declarations of similar type were heard then as well. It was said that Russia would do everything not to allow Georgia to enter NATO. Words were followed with deeds – we remember quite well deploying of railway battalion in Abkhazia; repair of railway and leading it to the administrative border. We remember deploying of artillery in the conflict region and setting up of a base in the village of Mskhlebi. I think Putin’s declaration is connected with Obama – Saakashvili meeting on January 30. It’s a warning before the events that may unfold in our region. Russia will do its best to create problems for strategic partners of the West in the region.

Q. – A video of missile unit tactical exercises was spread through Internet showing three combat maps with detailed plan of Tbilisi.

M.A. – The threat is real because it’s a part of big politics – warning, on the one hand, and patting, on the other. This is the reason why Georgian cities are marked on the maps as targets for military assault on the US-partner country. On the other hand, Russia is willing to speak with the Georgian people. Russia has connections with only those forces that wish to be with it, who pragmatically assess the issue.

As for the threat, I repeat, it exists, it is real and will always be there. I’ve said more than once that until there are 4th and 7th military bases in Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, Georgian statehood will permanently be under the threat of termination.

The Russians have achieved something important to which our people pay no attention – they managed to take hold without any control of not only the territory of South Ossetia but whole Georgian space. In the Russian elite there is a feeling that the same can be repeated. The main task is Georgian territory not only Tbilisi. I personally see the main direction of possible military assault not on Tbilisi but the direction of Borjomi and Bakuriani, i.e. to Javakheti.

If the Russian military chiefs see that Iran is losing, Russian influence on Armenia will face big threat and they will try to make the corridor.

Q. – Different interpretations are spread about Saakashvili – meeting with Obama. According to one point of view, it is connected with the Iranian conflict; according to the other Obama will demand of Saakashvili to observe principles of fair elections and democracy.

M.A. – Georgia won’t play big role in this conflict; the first attack on Iran will be carried out by the aviation of the 5th fleet. Besides, there are military bases in the countries of the Persian Gulf and what’s more, there is a military base on the Turkish territory. Turkey won’t stay beyond the events because it has its own interest in the Muslim world, willing to become dominant in the Western Asia. Thus it will be very important for them to participate in this operation in this or that form.

I think the rear services such as hospitals and storages for military cargo can be deployed on the Georgian territory; but during the first stage of confrontation deployment of assault forces is less probable.

The Georgian side may have package of proposals, the contents of which is unknown to me but they may contain the issues interesting for US in case of future confrontation with Iran. They can be of positive or negative nature for Georgian authorities. The positive might be discussion of the package offered by Georgian powers; but the bad one will certainly be an inevitable demand that the Georgian authorities hold fair elections and give real shape to the process of democratization and alter the situation in which we are now. Statement of the White House has actually confirmed this.

Q. – In a special statement Minister of foreign affairs of Iran warned the countries of the region not to get involved in the possible Iranian-American conflict.

M.A. – Passiveness of the regional countries is of utmost importance for Iran. They know quite well that Turkey will attempt to use the situation. As for Georgia, Iran is afraid not of it but rather of possible problems with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a big factor of irritation for Iran because of a plethora of Azeris living on Iranian territory. We shouldn’t ignore the fact of Iranian tribe of Talish, being of pro-Iranian orientation, living in southern Azerbaijan. For this reason Iranian authorities are trying to build up the situation with allies and avoid regional confrontation. This declaration is interesting for me in this regard but in Iran they also realize that it won’t have much influence on Turkey’s policy.

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