Georgia needs to find peace to evolve, former Swiss ambassador says
30 September, 2019
Georgia needs to find peace to evolve, former Swiss ambassador says
One year before the elections the former Swiss ambassador Lukas Beglinger is sure that the country will soon face big changes.

Mr. Beglinger the summer in Tbilisi was shaped by protests. After June 20th, protesters are still trying to keep up the spirits. Does this movement mark a turning point in Georgia?


If you look at the latest opinion polls of the National Democratic Institute, you clearly see that large parts of the Georgian population are dissatisfied. Many are under the
impression that the country is not moving forward or even moving in the wrong direction. For more than a year, we have witnessed repeated protest movements that were sparked by controversial actions of the police and other law enforcement bodies. I think that many Georgians are simply fed up with the performance of their authorities and political elites.

There is a new alternative rising: the Lelo-movement initiated by TBC-Bank founder Mamuka Khazaradze. Do you think this movement will become the new leader after the elections in 2020?

I wouldn’t dare to make such a guess at this point in time! But I am sure there will be a change. The high number of undecided, frustrated voters points in that direction, as well as the fact that the elections in 2020 will be held according to a fully proportional system, which is a very positive development. Ever since Georgia regained its independence, it has been too easy for the ruling party of the day to plaz a dominant role in the parliament, the government, the country’s institutions, and the economy at large, without proper checks and balances. Much of the popular dissatisfaction we observe today can be attributed to this unsound “tradition”.

There was a lot of media attention after the suggestion of former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that Georgia could join the NATO without Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Do you think that this is a realistic scenario?

First and foremost, Georgia’s security primarily depends on addressing the unresolved conflicts in relation to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while the perspective of Georgia joining NATO remains distant, for a number of reasons. While Georgia has spared no effort to force NATO membership, the same cannot be said of its willingness to genuinely address those conflicts which have hampered its security and development for decades. Hence, the suggestion of joining NATO without security guarantees for Abkhazia and South Ossetia is like putting the cart before the horse. It will presumably be controversial even in Georgia, and more so among NATO member countries. I am convinced that there is no other way forward for Georgia than to have a sincere dialogue with all conflict parties in order to find mutually agreeable solutions and to establish durable peace. By the way, this is exactly how the German Federal Republic acted in the 1970s and 1980s in relation to the GDR and the Soviet Union, notwithstanding its NATO membership.

By: Valérie Wacker

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