Interview: Georgian PM Ivanishvili Addresses Controversial Points of His Nation's Affairs

During a two-day visit to Estonia, the Georgian prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said Georgia will prove that it is a European country, and that it will join the EU and NATO.


Having announced plans to leave his post after the presidential election at the end of the year, Ivanishvili said he wishes to step aside to help develop democracy on the civil society level.

"The government is the inner part of a society. I will leave behind a stable and good government. I think now is high time to help civil society, which chooses its government in the right way, observes and analyzes the situation and keeps an eye on the government's activities," Ivanishvili said.


Estonian officials have expressed commitment to supporting an EU-Georgian association and free trade agreements, which will be discussed at November's Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.


ETV journalist Astrid Kannel interviewed the billionaire politician who pushed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili - a man closely allied with Estonia - out of power.


There are those who claim that you are a Kremlin puppet. That you wanted to become prime minister to secure or regain your business position in Russia, and to that end were willing to turn Georgia in a direction suitable to Moscow.


Regarding my Russian ties, I would like to say I don't have any business there anymore. I have sold my every last business in Russia and I have left that country. I made it clear on the first stay that I took office that I am loyal and keep my word. This question is no longer relevant. Not a single question has remained up in the air concerning these matters. Not even Saakashvili and his team ask about it anymore because they know that there are no grounds for these suspicions.


You have pledged South Ossetia and Abkhazia will come back to Georgia. Will that happen in the near future?


It will not happen in the near future, but sooner or later these territories will be reunited with Georgia. In order for this to happen, steps must first be taken to allow for the creation of democratic institutions and economic development, so that our country becomes attractive to the breakaway regions.


Moscow believes South Ossetia and Abkhazia have a right to be independent. Perhaps it would be wise to let them have their independence? Why should it be forbidden? Georgia also wanted to be an independent country, not a part of the Soviet Union.


Historically these cut-off areas have been a part of Georgia. We have lived side by side for centuries. I don't agree with the assertion that they are completely different nations. There are a lot of different ethnic groups living in Georgia. By following your logic, Georgia would disintegrate in many small pieces.


Speaking of the Russian-Georgian war, who was to blame? Who started the war?


There is no doubt that it was an aggression, the Russian Federation's violent action, in the course of which Georgia was occupied. There was no justification for doing it. But if not for Saakashvili's ignorance, which helped cause the war, it could have been avoided. He made unforgivable mistakes, which led to us getting what we got.


And Estonia supported Saakashvili.


Yes, Estonia supported Georgia and continues to support the state of Georgia. Here I would like to express my sincere thanks for this friendship [...] Georgia will prove that it belongs in Europe, that we are Europeans. Georgia will become a member of both the European Union and NATO.


The Eurasian Union also sounds interesting. Have you thought about joining it?


Our strategic choices are the European Union and NATO. That decision has been made by the Georgian people and it cannot be changed. If whatever union or association it may be, including the Eurasian Union, is not in conflict with the European Union, if cooperating is beneficial to our country and our economy, then we will do it.