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Khidasheli’s “sweet toasts” in Yerevan: Georgia’s “backstabbing” policy multiplies risks for Armenia

“Georgia’s position on all regional problems is contrary to Armenia’s position, but we are not going to talk about this. Instead, we will talk about our military having good relations in Afghanistan and our good common history,” that was the general meaning of what Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said during her press conference in Yerevan. In fact, she said nothing reasonable, nor did she give any competent answers to the journalists’ questions. All she was doing throughout the meeting was trying to evade sharp corners.

But here she failed too. “Azerbaijan is our strategic partner, Turkey is our neighbor and a NATO member, who supports our NATO-related initiatives and to whom we are grateful for this. But despite this, Georgia and Armenia are partners in defense and will be ones in future,” Khidasheli said, without specifying how exactly Armenia can cooperate with Azerbaijan’s strategic partner under current conditions.

The journalists’ bewilderment grew when Khidasheli was asked why Georgia had supported anti-Armenian resolutions at PACE. The Georgian defense minister said she had no authority to answer that question. All she said was, “This is how politics works.” Such a pity nobody asked her how such politics is called. Perhaps, “backstabbing”?

Nor did Khidasheli answer questions concerning Georgia’s position on Turkey. Her kind words about Turkey do not tally with the Turks’ activities in the region (Syria, Iraq, indirect support for ISIL, bloody oil business with terrorists, etc.) and in Georgia (Islamization of Adjara and growing influence).

This is how the leader of the Neutral Eurasian Georgian Party Archil Chkoidze explains this: the key reason why Khidasheli is so kind to Turkey is the influence the US and NATO have over her and her ministry.

“The United States has serious levers to pressure Georgia’s Defense Ministry. For 10 years already the Americans have controlled the ministry. Just one example, a year ago Armenian Tsakhkadzor hosted an event celebrating the victory over Fascism. At the last moment, Khidasheli prevented the Georgian delegation from attending the celebrations,” Chkoidze said.

“What the Georgian-Turkish relations are we talking about when Turkey keeps islamizing Adjara and attempting economic and military-political expansion into Georgia. If Georgia continues regarding Turkey as a strategic partner, it will have no effective cooperation with Armenia. What partnership are they talking about?! For centuries Turkey has been aggressors with respect to Georgia and continues to be such,” Chkoidze told EADaily.

According to him, today Georgia is an instrument in the United States’ hands, while Turkey is acting as a kind of a supervisor of Georgia’s NATO integration. “If tomorrow Americans review their attitude towards Turkey, Khidasheli and figures like her will be the first to turn anti-Turkish,” the Georgian expert said.

But for the time being, Georgia’s Defense Ministry is controlled by the US Department of State and the Pentagon. So, there can be no real military cooperation between Georgia and Armenia.

Director General of the Center for Political Information Alexey Mukhin shares Chkoidze’s position. He told EADaily that Georgia is trying to have a foot in both camps even though they are too far from each other. “On the one hand, Georgia is trying to restore economic ties with Russia and to naturally be amicable to Russia’s strategic partner, Armenia. But, on the other hand, both Georgia and Azerbaijan are being pressured by the United States. The key factor that is keeping Georgia on the American ‘hook’ is the huge money Mikheil Saakashvili borrowed when in power. So, now the Georgians are forced to creep,” Mukhin noted.

Azerbaijan is an example of what may happen to those refusing to creep. “Once the Americans see some disobedience, their Congress approves very tough reports. If this warning proves inefficient, they start realizing their threats,” Mukhin said.

He is sure that Georgia’s attempts to make friends with Armenia once again are just part of the United States’ strategy. “Americans are trying to enlarge their presence in the region and are using Georgia and Azerbaijan for this purpose. When Azerbaijan defied, they scared it. Now it is for Georgia to prove its loyalty,” Mukhin said.

He advises Armenia to be wise and not to yield to Georgia’s sweet toasts.

There were lots of other questions Khidasheli evaded: How are things in the Pankisi Gorge, the home of some terrorist leaders? Can Georgia’s negligence of the processes developing in that region be regarded as indirect support for terrorism? How will Georgia act if the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resumes? How will it act in case of a conflict between the Collective Security Treaty Organization and NATO? As long as there are no answers to these and many other questions, Georgia remains a factor of political instability in the region and is creating additional threats and risks for its own self and its neighbors.

EADaily Transcaucasia Bureau

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