Will Georgia Be Able To Meet Its Main Challenge?
18 October, 2012
Will Georgia Be Able To Meet Its Main Challenge?

 

Interview with Sandor Szabo, Ambassador of Hungary to Georgia

We thank very much Mr. Sandor Szabo, Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of Hungary to Georgia.

who consented to give an interview, thus becoming the first foreign diplomat accredited in Georgia who will talk and assess Parliamentary Election of October 1 with Georgian Journal. He says that the negative expectations were not justified, that Georgia proved to be a country with lots of perspectives, but adds that there is still a long way to

go to prove its democratic viewpoints.

 

G.J: Do you assess the parliamentary election of October 1 as free and fair?

S.S: I am very satisfied. There were some fears from abroad and even in this country that it would be not free, not fair, etc. That day and the following days proved that these fearful expectations were not fulfilled. The international community was very satisfied, including EU, OSCE, European Parliament, the Council of Europe, NATO - everybody confessed that it was a competitive, free and fair election. Hungary appreciated it very highly.

G.J: It was a historic election for Georgia, there is no doubt about it, as we at last, for the first time managed to transfer the power peacefully, via elections. However, some experts  said that there were some violations, as expected, from the party of United National Movement – former ruling party. But we really do have a reason for celebrating, as the will of people was fulfilled. Do you think that these violations could somehow affect the final assessment of October 1 election?

S.S: We had two observers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary. I met them after the elections. I don’t have any information which would prove that this information is true. In every country, there are shortcomings. But it won’t affect the final assessments, I am convinced.

G.J: How do you assess the fact that the former government has managed to behave themselves and not to cause any escalation and the fact that President Saakashvili admitted the defeat even before the final results were announced?  Do you see the signs of the birth of the civil society in Georgia that we lacked until today?

S.S: It shows a very good democratic maturity. Not of a politician but of a head of the state, it was a very wise act on his part. If he had not done it, there might well be some controversies and maybe some conflicts between the two political sides. Even the messages of the High Representative Catherine Ashton and the Enlargement Commissioner Mr. Stefan Fule praised the wise decision of the President. It is a common international evaluation. Their pressure before, during and after the elections were very important. It is an example and message for the future that NGOs can play important role in politics and in the society. They have to be strengthened too in the future because NGOs are a key factor in the democratic process and development of the society.

G.J: Until today, the Russian government insisted that it would not sit down at the negotiations table with Georgia because they did not want to speak with Saakashvili. But now, when the new government has emerged, we have heard from the Russian administration that they will not speak with the “Georgian Dream” coalition (which is far more acceptable for them as political players), if they don’t acknoledge the sovereignty of self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On his turn, Bidzina Ivanishvili does not intend to restore the diplomatic relations with Russia, if only they don’t leave the occupied territories. How realistic do you think is it that the new government will be able to normalize the relations with our Northern neighbor?

S.S: It is a very difficult issue. It shows to me, personally, that the process will be very long. The war broke out around 4 years ago and it was also a very long process and it did not happen in one day. Even Mr. Ivanishvili said that he does not believe that it can be done in a short period of time. There are some red lines in the Russian position and there are some red lines in the Georgian position. Of course, the solution of this problem lies in the negotiation and not the war. As Mr. Irakli Alasania said, there is a negotiation table and the two sides must sit and negotiate about what they can do. Nobody, who is a realistic  politician, can believe that the Parliamentary election was held on October 1 and on November 1 the diplomatic relations will be restored. As Mr. Ivanishvili said, the first steps can be taken in the field of direct trade, investments and economy, because for Georgian goods Russian market is very important.

G.J: Do you think that it is realistic that Russia will open its market?

S.S: Why not? Business is business. If the partners are interested, they have to do it.

G.J: The leader of the new ruling party said that their foreign policy will not change and its vector will be steadily directed to the integration with Euro-Atlantic structures. However, Ivanishvili also stated that Saakashvili, wanted Georgia to become a strategic partner, but he said that it is not possible because Georgia is a tiny country and we can only be the minor partners for America. Mr. Ivanishvili said that we should never forget about our big neighbor either. Is not it a controversial statement?

S.S:  Integration process and having good relationship with Russia don’t exclude each other. It is my view. It is not ‘either-or’ question. It is “too- too”, which is my option too. They are two processes that can be in accord. There are many cases which prove that it’s possible.

G.J: What about BidzinaIvanishvili’s personality? In the past he was loved and cherished by people as he did a lot of charity and afterwards, the former government tried to stain his good name by saying that he was doing it for some dividends. Maybe, the muddy politics is over; at least, people, hope it is. Will he be able to change the standards of the Georgian politics?

S.S: I am not talking about people; I am talking about the country as a whole. Hungary is one of the partners of Georgia; of course, it is not the United States of America, nor Germany, but one of Georgia’s partners. For us, what matters is, to have a real partner who will be ready and capable to cooperate with us. I am representing diplomacy, which can exist only under international conditions. So, that is my approach. But I can say one thing: his reputation is very high in the Georgian society and its’ a positive thing. His starting position is advantageous.

G.J: The President is still strong; he has self-governance bodies, governors, regional administration and the city Mayor under his power.  Lately, the President subordinated the agency of special connections that earlier was under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. At the same time, according to the new order, it will control all the expenses connected with the President and his administration. Is there a danger of dual rule?

S.S: Well, they will have to cope with the cohabitation – the position and the opposition – strong President and strong Prime Minister is a challenge. Let’s see  how they will cooperate. The first signals are very positive. They are organizing the handover of the government smoothly. We very much hope so, all the EU and NATO member countries hope that it will continue that way, because you still have a long way to go and it is not only the short-term perspective for the country. It is a new challenge for Georgia; as you’ve  mentioned before, it is a historical moment not only because the government was changed peacefully, but also from the point of view of the fact that now there are two poles. We will see how they work together. It is the question of the future. It is quite a tricky transition. We hope that both sides will be ready to meet this challenge. Also, the integration process depends on how these two sides will function together. The association agreement, DCFTA and, visa dialogue, etc. with the EU are on the table and your government has to cope with these challenges in order to be able to meet the new ones.

G.J: The Georgian Dream is a big coalition that lists a lot of new and promising faces but there are some people from the past. Is it normal? The National Movement was using the names of those political figures during the pre-election campaign, telling people that if they voted for coalition, they would risk getting back to Shevardnadze’s stagnation. Do you believe it is normal that old human resources are recruited again by the new government and does it happen abroad too?

S.S: It is not a unique phenomenon for Georgia. But this problem is first of all not connected with the leadership. It may be true for a  medium –level personalities, inside the ministries where they may really lack the personnel. New ministers is not a big problem, because they are only around 20 in number, but the system itself is huge and the ministries are big and they need a lot of staff.

G.J: In your opinion, which was the weakest point of the former government and what the new government should do first and foremost?

S.S: I am not Mr.VanoMerabishvili (he laughs), and maybe even he does not know who is the weakest among them, but as for the second part of your question, I’ll tell you in three words: to work very hard. It is the only way out.

G.J: What will change in the Georgian politics?

S.S: On the political scene, there are two players now. There is the same picture in the parliament, as you have the two parties. But the coalition said that it can be divided into factions. This is the main change – two main players instead of one. It will bring a lot of positive consequences to the country.

 

Print
Other Stories
Tbilisi sign may appear on the Funicular hill
Hollywood has become a source of inspiration for many people worldwide. A similar idea from a Tbilisi citizen sounds very clever and attractive.
Russia was at an undeclared war with Georgia for years - Matthew Bryza
I think anybody who has observed how Russia has been conducting its war in Ukraine should realize that Russia was at war with Georgia, an undeclared war for years,
Tbilisi Park is due to open in Buenos-Aires
Tbilisi Park is due to open in the capital of Argentina, Buenos-Aires. The decision was recently made by the city parliament.
Young people detained by occupying forces in the Truso gorge
Some young Georgian hikers have recently been detained by armed forces in the Truso gorge. They have been accused of illegally crossing the so-called border into the occupied Tskhinvali region.
Wildfire in Khashuri, Tseda village
Fire broke out yesterday in Khashuri, Tseda village, in the forest.
Travel between Ukraine and Georgia for both countries’ citizens to be allowed only by electronic ID cards
The Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze has announced that the citizens of Georgia and Ukraine will be able to travel in and out of both countries using only electronic ID cards.
Why does the Georgians love John McCain?
John McCain, Senator, and former Presidential candidate of the USA died on the 25th of August, 2018. He was diagnosed with lioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer last year.
The IBSU Conundrum
Teachers, students and students-to-be all took to the streets when the news broke that the International Black Sea University, one of the most highly regarded universities in the country, wouldn’t be admitting new students into its ranks this year.
Angela Merkel arrives in Georgia
German chancellor Angela Merkel has already arrived in Georgia.
German media about possible reasons for  Merkel’s visit to Georgia
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Tbilisi today, expectations are high and both the Georgian and German media are speculating about the possible results of the visit.
Angela Merkel to visit Georgia on August 23
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Georgia on the 23rd of August. Her plan is to visit the Caucasus states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Georgian presidential candidate to Journalists –“Shake your brain!”
“Journalists should shake their brains” – said Georgian presidential candidate, Salome Zurabishvili to journalists.
What does Giorgi Margvelashvili own?
The presidential election will be held on 28th of October, 2018 in Georgia. The President Giorgi Margvelashvili has not yet confirmed his participation in the election.
"Father returned for mother ... then the bomb landed …”
10 years on, this is a different August. But this month is a time of remembrance and of hard memories and hurt.
The World talks about the 2008 war
On the tenth anniversary of the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, 20% of Georgia continues to be occupied by Russian military forces who also seem intent of further encroachment on Georgian territory.
Georgia hosts high ranking guests for the 10th anniversary of the 2008 war
Ten years have passed since the Russian military intervention in Georgia,in August, 2008.
 10 Years Anniversary of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia – “Mission supports stability and security on the ground”
10 years have now passed since the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia and still we face a huge daily threat. Certain parts of Georgia continue to be occupied even today.
Heroin seized near Georgia-Azerbaijan State Border
Border Police from the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs have arrested a 28 year old individual.
After ten years from the 2008 war, borderization continues
It is ten years since the 2008 August war between Russia and Georgia.
Multinational Noble Partner training 2018 has launched
The multinational Noble Partner training 2018 commenced on the 1st of August.
National Democratic Institute publishes the latest survey
Poll results released today by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia show growing dissatisfaction about the state of the country’s economy, environment, and political climate going into the presidential election.
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze needs 5 more Regional Governors
At a recent Government press conference Mamuka Bakhtadze, the Prime Minister of Georgia, announced that new Governors for the following regions are required:
German government plans to recognize Georgia among safe countries
The German government will shortly approve a law, which enables the countries such as Georgia, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria to be recognized as safe countries
Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins about Georgia’s prospects for EU membership
Georgia is a country that wants to become member of the EU, but how does it look from Brussels?
Military equipment and techniques created by Georgians
Delta is a Military, Scientific and Technical Provider.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
21.09.2018
22.09.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6193
2.6193
EUR
1
EUR
3.0693
3.0693
GBP
1
GBP
3.4651
3.4651
RUB
100
RUB
3.9538
3.9538
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6193
EUR
1
EUR
3.0693
GBP
1
GBP
3.4651
RUB
100
RUB
3.9538