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Grigol Vashadze: We are Concerned with the Plans of Moscow to Rebuild the USSR

By Konstantin Ameliushkin

“We are highly concerned about the plans of Moscow to rebuild the Soviet Union”, - declared the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze during the interview for DELFI. He has also assessed positively the Chairmanship of Lithuania in the OSCE. According to him, the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have little progress, but it is not yet possible to solve them fundamentally.

The Minister states that Georgia is not gloating over the processes in South Ossetia, and Russia doesn’t have a clear strategy towards South Caucasus.

Vashadze hopes that the elections of Russian President shall differ from the Parliamentary ones: “I hope that Russia shall finally has the government willing to live peacefully with their neighbors and which shall get rid of  schizophrenic, imperial hallucinations and shall become aware of a simple truth that there is no more powerful mean than economic cooperation and equal partnership”.

 

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- How does Georgia evaluate the Chairmanship of Lithuania at the OSCE?

- The Chairmanship of Lithuania made all efforts and treated very seriously this significant function and mission, it worked hard in order to make at least some progress within the solution of the problems that the OSCE faces. I should say that we all were praised and first of all Lithuanian Chairmanship by an exclusively important document on conflict resolution and prevention. This principle has been detailed. There was a document ready on involuntarily displaced persons, but Russian delegation came and ruined everything that had prospects within human dimension.

They ruined all the documents mentioning democracy, human rights. We adopted the documents on conflicts and it’s important that Lithuanian Chairmanship began the discussion of these problems, the consideration of which had been blocked earlier. For example, the issue of refugees and involuntarily displaced persons. Besides there is already the draft of the document and we have already begun discussing this problem. Earlier no other OSCE Chairmanship has managed to do this. That is why I evaluate Lithuanian OSCE Chairing as excellent. They did their utmost and even more. It is impossible to achieve more in terms of current political environment.
 
- And what is about Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

- As for our occupied territories, then from the very start Lithuanian Chairmanship said that the main issue shall cover confidence building measures. They worked without rest and managed to promote some things. There was small progress in each issue, but of course it’s impossible to solve this problem fundamentally. Russia is not ready for this.

Despite this we have positive moves. First of all, I mean successful finalization of talks on Russia joining the WTO. However, despite the fact that a positive impulse occurred, in general there is no positive dynamics within other directions.

This is my understanding but neither Moscow nor Smolensk Square (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation) has developed tactics or strategy towards South Caucasus. They have neither wishes nor possibilities. They have blocked themselves into a legal dead-end in August 26th 2008, when they made unconsidered decision to recognize the so-called independence and made themselves fist of all the hostages of hopeless situation.

Neither of the states in the world enjoys that legislation bodies of other states adopt resolutions, in which they are called occupants, and the regions of Georgia are called occupied territories, and which contain the demand on immediate withdrawal of occupational troops from these territories and stop the process of their militarization. Moreover it is for Russia, which is a permanent member of the Security Council and which claims to be one of the key players of current international relations. Is there some thinking process over the way out of the established political and legal disaster, I don’t really know. According to estimations the kind of process should be. The absence of the wish of Russia to engage into a constructive dialogue with us only proves that they haven’t decided anything definitely.

Look what is happening in the occupied Tskhinvali region with the so-called elections. It could have been funny, but unfortunately it is tragic.

That is why the earlier Russia develops a comprehensive, realistic, politically and legally justified approach towards the sovereignty and independence of all three states of South Caucasus, the sooner there will be progress in our relations. If it is developed, Russia as well as Georgia shall benefit from it, because I’m sure that no one is interested for the current catastrophic status-quo to be maintained.

In general our line consists of two parts. First of all the President of Georgia on November 23rd 2011 during the speech in the European Parliament undertook a legal liability never to implement force to restore territorial integrity. The second part of our line can be formulated the following way: Georgia is ready to establish dialogue with Russia in any place and time, and level and on any issue without any preliminary conditions.
 
- How does Georgia assess current processes in South Ossetia?

- We have no gloating although there are reasons for it. But I repeat that there is no gloating, although our citizens who remained on the other side of the occupational line try to get rid of Russian occupation and occupational, corruption and criminal regime enforced by Moscow with any available means. Moscow proudly declares that they have granted $1,5 billion for the region of Georgia, which consists of three gorges 25 km long and 7 km wide. When you compare the amount with the situation at site, this makes depressive impression. People still live in tents after Russian bombings, when their houses were burned down, about 60 000 citizens, native Georgians, were expelled from their houses, their villages were ruined to the ground and at the place of one of them they built a district for Russian officers. They should be ashamed.
 
- Russia expects the presidential elections. How do you think, shall this bring any changes into the line on South Caucasus?

- I don’t want to nip on ahead and it’s not in the rules of Georgian diplomacy to comment on political processes in the third country, if it doesn’t affect us directly. As for the oncoming presidential elections in Russia, then I hope that it shall be not like the parliamentary ones and Russian people will be finally given an opportunity to fulfill all their constitutional rights. I hope that in Russia, eventually, there will be the government willing to live in peace with all neighbors and that will get rid of schizophrenic, imperial hallucinations and recognize one simple truth that there is no more powerful mean than economic cooperation and equal partnership.

We of course are worried about the plans of Moscow to reestablish the Soviet Union. I should say that we treat carefully the involvement of one and another country into these Eurasian projects. Georgia has no plans and intentions to participate in any of these organizations or unions under the aegis of Russia that reestablishes the USSR in any form.
 
- Georgia is a member of GUAM. In 2005 the Organization made a declaration “Creating Democracy from Baltic to the Black Sea”. How do you find the processes happening in this area?

- Nothing has changed in GUAM. Today (during the meeting of GUAM member-states in the frameworks of the Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OSCE - DELFI) all the four states with pleasure ascertained that the rumors on its end have appeared to be premature.

Georgia has already signed an agreement and joint the “Viking” project. Azerbaijan is on its way. Energy projects are being accomplished all the time, and we are going to extend and signify them.

Except for the meeting of the ministers, there was a meeting with the special representative of Japan to GUAM. This is the first case and we spoke about three important aspects of our cooperation: tourism, energy and transit and transport options of the four states. Japan reveals interests in all the three mentioned spheres.

The main thing is that soon we obviously shall start regular political consultations when GUAM states shall inform Japan on the state of business in Eastern Europe, and it shall inform us about the things happening in Asia and Pacific Ocean region. It’s simply impossible to overestimate that our economic cooperation is added with political aspect.
 
- What can you say about the cooperation of Lithuania and Georgia in energy sphere?

- We are not talking about bilateral cooperation as Lithuania being an integral part of the European Union approaches towards Georgia, Azerbaijan and Caspian energy carriers basing on common European ideas.

Two projects are being seriously studied. The analysis of Nabucco is getting to its end, first agreements were signed. The second very serious project is AGRI (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania), which anticipates within Black Sea cost of Georgia the construction of gas condensing factory, the gas for which shall be delivered by tankers to Romania and later on spread along gas transporting system of Europe. Lithuania shall be a part of this general European project. I would like for us to promote faster as supply of Caspian and Central Asian energy through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Black Sea into Europe lies within the interests of our states as well as European ones.
 
- The issue of entrance of Russia into the WTO had been a point of agenda for a long time till Georgia agreed. What are the positives and negatives of the Russia joining this organization for your country?

- There is nothing negative. From the very first day of their negotiations I said that we went to Geneva in order to reach an agreement with Russia and not to block its joining the WTO. By this one should understand that Georgia, as well as any other state, has its national interests, red lines, which we won’t cross. It’s beneficial for all that we have managed to reach an agreement and it satisfies Georgia, Russia and international community and that a huge economy of Russia has found itself in the frameworks of civilized trade rules.

As for Georgia then except for the fact that we gave a green light to our Northern neighbor with which sooner or later we shall have to improve our relations for them to meet good neighborhood and civilized frames, we have also achieved another thing. There is a common trade regime along Russian-Georgian border, and it is now in the place it has never been controlled. And all cargos going through the trade corridors shall be subjected to international control. So no one lost, and Georgia has won in all directions.

With the very fact of talks and results we proved that Georgia shall not be the break on the way of improvement of Russian-Georgian relations.
 
- There is the Customs Union, with the members of which Georgia has different levels of cooperation.

- We have no relations with the Customs Union, there are bilateral relations with Belarus and Kazakhstan. They have political and economic character. We purchase from Belarus a wide range of goods – from sugar to agricultural machines – and we supply our own goods. The same is with Kazakhstan, but also there is transit, oil, energy cooperation, Kazakhstani investments into the economy of Georgia. That is why our cooperation with Kazakhstan as well as Belarus is firmly legally based and regulated with bilateral treaties.
 
 
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from delfi.lt
 
 
12.12.2011