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Saber-rattling or empty rhetoric – what is Georgian president talking with Russia about?

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili. Photo: frontnews.ge

Politicians are given their tongues not to convey their thoughts but to disguise them. This old truth comes to one’s mind when one gets familiar with a statement made by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on development of the Georgian-Russian relations.

In an interview to the Georgian Maestro TV channel, the president had to answer a question: if there is a need for a meeting of the two presidents eight years after the war and if they are psychologically ready.

The president’s answer was formulated in the best diplomatic traditions: “If Russia comprehends that Georgia is not Russia’s enemy, but is aimed at securing its sovereignty, such a meeting will undoubtedly make sense on this background and with agencies in charge working in the needed direction.”

In his times, the great writer Nikolai Gogol told the readers about a beautiful dame and a dame beautiful in all respects.

Has ever the respected Georgian president heard from any Russian top official that Russia sees Georgia as its enemy? There were no such statements even when Mikheil Saakashvili was president. Even when they in Georgia arrested alleged Russian spies and converted traitors. Russia dis make such statements even during the August events.

This is because neither Russian leadership, nor Russian people ever thought the Georgian people to be their enemies.

All actions of the Russian Federation towards Georgia have always been a response and often Russia was left without choice. Everyone knows that before the August 2008 events Russia unambiguously supported Georgia’s territorial integrity, but spoke for exclusively peaceful settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South-Ossetian conflicts.

As soon as the Georgian people ousted the bloody dictatorship of the homemade Pinochet, Saakashvili, Russia took every needed step for normalization of the relations with Georgia. They established a special work group that started improving the relations, downgrading the tension, resuming contacts in the economic, cultural life. This was from the start was led by the most experienced diplomats, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Zurab Abashidze, Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Russian Issues.

In the difficult conditions of the permanent confrontation of hysterics from the United National Movement, the parties managed to refresh the economic ties, open up the Russian market for the Georgian exports, that was of top priority for Georgia. It was very important for the Georgian economy that has been having very hard times for many years.

The flow of Russian tourists refreshed, and this was not all about money that came to the country’s economy. First of all, these are ties between the people who have always loved and respected each other.

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Unfortunately, President Margvelashvili made his contribution to the anti-Russian campaign. It became an official Georgian policy to give the status of an “invader” to Russia, and the status of “occupied territories” to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They expect that contemporary Russia would act the same way the Bolsheviks leadership did in the USSR, when they were revamping national republics and autonomies. So, they claim that Russia withdraws diplomatic recognition of the former autonomies.

Quite recently, mourning ceremonies were held in Tbilisi to commemorate the beginning of the war in Abkhazia. Officials and representatives of all political parties were talking of the need to “de-occupy” the country. On the same day, same events were taking place, but the Abkhazians call the war a patriotic one and celebrate liberation from the Georgian invasion. This mere fact speaks a lot of the current position Russia is in now.

In 2016, not a single time they in Tbilisi mentioned the political force (in the face of the United National Movement) to blame for the disastrous bloody dead-end they found themselves.

Besides, quite strange is the president’s statement on neighborliness. Russia needs to make sure Georgia is friendly-minded towards it on the background of completely unfriendly official statements made by Georgian officials. Former defense minister Tinatin Khidasheli and parliamentary speaker David Usupashvili, as well as Giorgi Margvelashvili himself made such statements not once. For instance, he refused to call for a referendum on same-sex marriages, although an initiative group collected 200,000 signatures for it.

Former parliamentary chair, leader of the Democratic Movement opposition party Nino Burjanadze commented on the refusal: “The Georgian president argued that such a referendum would work in Russia’s favor. It is an artificial argument, and all previous referenda are put under question… The decision is a very impotent solution, as the president would not make a decision that the USA won’t like.”

So, Russia is to blame again. Does Mr. President think that Russia should see such statements like friendly ones, doesn’t he?

“Diplomacy and politics are talks instead of saber-rattling… Hopefully, at some moment Georgia and Russia would come to the context of a well-minded dialog,” Margvelashvili said.

The words are right, but they fail to correlate with the deeds. Introducing NATO standards in the Georgian army, regular joint drills, permanent participation of Georgian troops in various missions all over the world with expectations that acquired skills will be helpful at home – are those “talks” or still “saber-rattling”?

Politics is not just talks, not empty phrases. Politics shows results only when one wants to achieve them.

Irakli Chkheidze for EADaily

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