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Georgia: Ivanishvili On NATO, Russia

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(Civil.Ge) — Billionaire opposition politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said it was possible to at the same time keep Georgia’s NATO integration and having “correct relations” with Russia.

“I think, that NATO and pro-Western course is the fate of our country,” Ivanishvili said in an interview with the Georgian tabloid Asaval-Dasavali. “Not a single politician should have an illusion that Georgian people will accept any other choice… There is no other way for Georgia rather than NATO aspiration and finding place in the European family.”

“However, we should also realize it very well, that the border, which we have with a big state, Russia, is also our fate… It may sound as a bold statement, but let me tell you: I deem it possible to simultaneously establish correct relations with Russia and to aspire towards NATO.”

“Of course, we have a hard work ahead of us… We should manage to use situation correctly and wisely in due time. The fact is that neither Russia can be relocated from the geopolitical space, where it is, nor Georgia’s location can be changed. First and foremost, we should turn into a country based on democratic institutions, where there will be no such autocracy, which has been imposed on us by Saakashvili,” Ivanishvili said.

Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, suggested in an interview with the Georgian public broadcaster in late December, that Ivanishvili’s recent remarks on NATO, including such as “NATO has no alternative for Georgia”, were political posturing rather than the billionaire’s genuine stance. Bokeria indicated, that he was judging Ivanishvili’s stance on NATO based on his initial remarks on the matter in which he was not giving a clear-cut position on NATO integration.

“Unfortunate… [there] is certain erosion in respect of a very fundamental issue on which there has been a strong consensus between the authorities and the major part of opposition for many years – I am speaking about unambiguously declared Euro-Atlantic orientation of our country; I think here we have alarming signs,” Bokeria told the public broadcaster’s talk-show on December 27.

He also said that a view according to which without normalizing ties with Russia, Georgia would fail to get closer to NATO “is a huge mistake.”

“Such an approach means indirectly acknowledging that a third country has a veto power over your [foreign policy] course,” Bokeria said, adding, that such an approach “in fact was a polished way of saying ‘no’ to” NATO integration.

“Experience shows, that exactly those countries managed to more or less sort out relations with Russia, which at first managed to get away from this [Russia’s] influence,” he said.

Civil.Ge

Civil Georgia is a daily news online service devoted to delivering quality news and analysis about Georgia. Civil.Ge is run by The UN Association of Georgia, a Georgian non-governmental organization, in frames of ‘National Integration and Tolerance in Georgia’ Program financed by USAID. Civil Georgia is also supported by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

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