Margvelashvili will probably Be the President for All Georgians
31 October, 2013
Margvelashvili will probably Be the President for All Georgians
Exclusive Interview with Sandor Szabo, Hungarian Ambassador to Georgia

The election is over. Georgia has the new President - Giorgi Margvelashvili. Now, it is high time to restart interviews with diplomats accredited to Georgia and ask their opinions regarding the process, results and expectations. The first interviewee is Mr. Sandor Szabo, Ambassador of Hungary to Georgia.
G.J: International community, the ambassador of the US, OSCE observation Mission and others assessed the Presidential elections of 27 Oc
tober as democratic and corresponding to the international standards. Did you expect that the elections would be held in such a good mood?
S.S: I was not surprised. The predictions and prognoses of the people living in Georgia, journalists, political scientists and diplomats came true regarding the results as well. I expected that Margvelashvili would win and as for the election environment as a whole – before the election, during the Election Day and after the election. One of the officials, if I am not mistaken, the representative of NATO Parliamentary Assembly said that it was a European election. It is true. Of course, there were some shortcomings and there is practically no country that would not have some drawbacks during the election process, but for Georgia it was a very positive day. I have to stress that the process started not now – it started last October when the elections went very smoothly. Of course, the campaign was more turbulent during the past parliamentary elections of 2012 than during the recent elections but the process and realization of elections was evaluated very positively by the international community. What has happened on 27 October is simply a continuation of this process, one more step forward. I am not a person to evaluate it as I am simply a diplomat. I was observing the elections with my colleagues from the embassy; six Hungarian observers arrived specially for the election day as well. But most importantly, the biggest international organizations – NATO, EU, OSCE -evaluated it very positively. I can only join their statements. Also, the campaign was very calm. We can say the same about the Election Day. It was very pleasant for me how the main candidates behaved after the election. Margvelashvili made a speech that was his duty but Davit Bakradze from National Movement also congratulated Margvelashvili on his victory and expressed his party’s intention to cooperate with the President in the future. It was very positive. It is a signal that after the inauguration of the new president, there will be a cooperation of European standard between the majority and the minority. The third candidate said that she had some complaints. It is the competence of the judges to decide. For the new government, this day is going to be very important on the international arena as it was a litmus test for Georgia, as it was said previously by the international organizations and Georgia has passed the test.
G.J: Margvelashvili said that the cohabitation has ended. It has not been an easy thing for the Georgian public. Do you think that it will make things easier?
S.S: Cohabitation was very tough in Georgia. Now, there is no necessity for the cohabitation anymore. Formerly, it was an advantage. But now the Georgian Dream coalition has to prove and demonstrate that when there is no cohabitation, they are very strong, balanced and are ready to cooperate with the Parliamentary opposition as well as with the parties outside the legislative body. It is the essence of parliamentary democracy. They can prove maturity of democracy only in this way. I hope that it will make things easier but the precondition is the cooperation between the parliamentary parties, which is of utmost importance.
G.J: To the question of relations with National Movement - the opposition party, asked by reporters at the first press conference shortly following the Election Day, PM Ivanishvili responded that they will collaborate with real professionals. Do you think they will manage to cooperate normally without much ado?
S.S: I hope so. It is very important for the country prior to the Vilnius summit as well as after that. I am convinced that the results and completion of the presidential election will boost and give birth to more chances for signing the Association Agreement as it had been a litmus test. Now, Georgia with Moldova will initiate on AA/DCFTA while Ukraine waits for signing. The successful election has contributed to the hope that next year Georgia can sign the agreement on the basis of the present mandate of the commission. It is the decision of the European Council of last week - on 25 October - to allow initialing to Georgia and Moldova and signing to Ukraine in Vilnius. Even after signing, all 28 countries of EU have to ratify the Association Agreement with the country. It takes time. The mandate of the present commission lasts till next October So, it will be signed approximately next autumn, according to my expectations. Of course, things will change after the Association Agreement but it will be a challenge for Georgia, as closer it gets to Europe more homework comes in the way. And this is only the association membership and there is a way to go before reach the final point of full membership.
G.J: The issue of Russia was also voiced at the press conference. Margvelashvili, the newly elected President, said that Prime Minister has appointed a special representative and that this is also the issue of Geneva Talks. Bidzina Ivanishvili pointed out rather directly that the issue of Russia is quite complicated and that it will need time to solve this problem. What do you make of it?
S.S: Geneva Talks is a multilateral forum for conflict settlement. Appointing Zurab Abashidze is bilateral. They sometimes cannot avoid mentioning the occupation, the issue of Geneva Talks. Abashidze stressed that he does not want to discuss occupation with Karasin but sometimes you cannot escape it. However, for us, the international community, it is a positive process that the new government has started to talk with Russia. It is difficult, of course, and will take time but there are still some achievements. For instance, in the field of trade – your wine and mineral waters are already entering the Russian market as before. There will be regular flights between Tbilisi and Moscow as before. At present, there were only charters. I hope very much that in the future we will see more and more achievements.
G.J: Last but not least, let me ask you very sincerely – what do you think about the personality of Giorgi Margvelashvili?
S.S: I met him several times in the past. I have the impression and I think I share this opinion with my colleagues, that he is very open, open-minded, communicative and flexible. He is smart enough to accept different opinions and this is very important. It is the signal that in the future he will be a symbol of unity of Georgian nation. It is a good precondition that he can be the president of all Georgians. I hope very much for it. And I hope that he will establish direct contacts with his Hungarian counterpart as soon as possible.

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