26 December, 2013
Interview with President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili

How the President of Georgia assesses the past year, what he considers to be the ruling political team’s achievements, and what they couldn’t do … these and other important issues were discussed with President Giorgi Margvelashvili in an exclusive interview.
G.M. – 2013 was extremely important for our political team. We’ve implemented an unprecedented agricultural reform. It was a business-social project with main emphasis on the social component.
Q. – What couldn’t the
ruling team do last year?
A. – The most important thing that we couldn’t do was development of business. We couldn’t manage to create a positive political agenda. Incorrectly this was often called a PR campaign.
Q. – Do you use a Presidential motorcade or walk to your work?
A. – I live nearby, 50 meters away from the Government Chancellery. Accordingly, I often walk to my work and it is neither political posing nor my modesty. People aren’t surprised at all when they see me in the street.
Q. – Do you really think that such a residence is very pompous for the President of Georgia?
A. – I think it is. Simply, we have to be adequate to reality and if there is something already built on people’s money, let it serve the people.
Q. - How comfortable do you feel yourself at the receptions and meetings at the international level? Was there any embarrassment that you recall now with a smile?
A. – Meetings at the highest level that I attended as President were at the Vilnius Summit. Presidents and Prime Ministers were there, but the whole situation was less oriented to protocol. In Vilnius I shook hands with leaders of three countries and when taking photos I was told to stand on the other side, but it is neither confusing nor funny to recall.
Q. – Is there anything that can hinder EU integration?
A. – The EU policy was oriented at creation of common-continental property in the six former soviet countries through economic, visa, cultural and partnership extension and activation. The European leaders candidly said: let’s look at the recent history of Europe; we are extending, our economic potential is growing, the well-being of our people is increasing. The leader of a country was speaking about the experience of his country, the increase of trade, average wage, and GDP within the last 15 years. Besides, for the Russian Federation the safest border line is that with Europe. The least problematic country for the Russian Federation - and that is not likely to assault the country - is exactly “Europe.” Then why is it possible to change the paradigm of European extension, that doesn’t suit Russia, by the paradigm where Europe and Russia should fight for Ukraine?
Q. – Cannot the so-called creeping occupation be taken as a mechanism of pressure on the part of Russia?
A. – In the mounting of barbed-wire fences I hardly see any serious military-strategic or geopolitical nuances. It’s clear for everybody that from the military-strategic point of view a barbed-wire fence is funny. Such fences are meant for people, not for tanks or howitzers - to complicate movement and contacts for those compatriots in Tskhinvali and Abkhazia who need to communicate with us.
Q. – The country’s Euro-Atlantic course is distinct and clear, but that with regard to Russian-Georgian relations is vague…
A. – We have two formats of relations with Russia: the Geneva and the Prague. Prague is mostly oriented at cultural and economic relations, and it is positive as such. Separation of these two formats was a right step. We see that by and by wine, mineral water, and agricultural products are being exported to the Russian market; this creates a positive background and it should create possibilities to discuss political issues.
Q. – Do you communicate with the ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili - who shifted to the public sector - and what issues do you discuss?
A. – He is my friend. We speak about everything and politics is certainly part of our discussions. We speak about everything.
Q. – What is the recent activation of the Prosecutor’s Office connected with? I mean ex-Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili’s scandalous declaration in which he says that pressure is exerted upon him; and the new accusations brought against the Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava. Should an investigation start on Merabishvili’s declaration, and generally, what should be the authorities’ position in order not to leave unanswered questions?
A. – They speak about “repressions.” Simply, they are always looking for the cause to peddle “political persecution.”
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