Ex-minister: Georgia still hasn't made clear choice between West and Russia
    Caliber.Az interview with Gia Nodia

    INTERVIEWS  24 November 2022 - 12:23

    Matanat Nasibova

    Caliber.Az presents an interview with Gia Nodia, ex-Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Head of the Caucasus Institute of Peace, Democracy, and Development.

    - Mr. Nodia, how would you describe the current political situation in Georgia?

    - In general, the internal political situation in the country is stable and the rallies in support of Saakashvili are calm, without any provocations. Supporters of the ex-president are demanding permission to take him abroad for treatment because of his deteriorating health. However, authorities believe that talk of threats to Saakashvili's life is overblown, although they do not deny the existence of problems with his health. Therefore, his future fate will depend only on the authorities' withdrawal.

    As for the elections within the main opposition party, the United National Movement, it has indeed attracted the attention of part of Georgian society, especially against the backdrop of the rivalry between the various party factions. It is not about who wins the elections, but rather about the UNM staying strong and not allowing for any internal political splits, given that many of its supporters are disappointed with the inactivity of the party. The outcome of the elections will be clear in December.

    - A CSTO summit took place in Yerevan with the participation of President Putin. Do you think Armenia will get any support from this military bloc as a result of yesterday's discussions?

    - Armenia believes it is entitled to CSTO support, which is understandable, as it is, after all, a military bloc. But I do not think Armenia should expect significant assistance, even if it demands it from Russia and other CSTO member countries. Taking into account that Moscow has other priorities now, I doubt that Armenia should expect assistance from the CSTO.

    - Yerevan is evading the normalization of relations with Baku in every possible way. Will the sides be able to normalize relations in the foreseeable future?

    - The situation is indeed difficult, although it is clear that the normalization of relations is in the interests of both states. At this stage, there is a lack of clarity on a number of important issues, such as the opening of transport links, border delimitation, and so on. And although work is going on in all these directions, and even some efforts are being made by the West, it is premature to say that the parties will settle relations in the foreseeable future.

    - What can Georgia offer concretely to normalize Armenian-Azerbaijani relations?

    - I do not think that Georgia can play an important role in the resolution of the main political issues that lie at the heart of the disagreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but it can certainly provide a platform for negotiations if that is necessary. Tbilisi can be involved in the resolution of some humanitarian issues, both at this stage and in the future.

    - Do you think that Azerbaijani-Georgian relations have reached an acceptable level?

    - I would say they are exemplary, as there have been no serious problems between our countries and the overall level of relations is quite good. If in recent years the relations between Tbilisi and Baku have been less intense in terms of the exchange of visits of heads of state after the recent visit of the President of Azerbaijan to Georgia there was a strong impression that the agenda of strengthening bilateral relations is becoming more relevant again.

    - With your permission, let us return to the foreign policy agenda of your country. How long do you think Georgia will have to wait for full membership in the EU and NATO?

    - This is a very difficult question. Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the chances of this scenario becoming more realistic have slightly increased. But on the other hand, internal political processes in Georgia minimise such a possibility, as the Georgian government's policy has become less friendly towards the West. The leadership prefers not to irritate Russia and pursues a policy that is more acceptable to Russia. This trend emerged with the Georgian Dream's rise to power but became more evident with the outbreak of war in Ukraine. It is difficult to maintain ties with both the West and Russia at the same time. Given that Georgia has still not made a clear choice between the West and Russia, its policy looks somewhat bifurcated.

    - But against this backdrop, has Georgia's relationship with Ukraine deteriorated?

    - They undoubtedly did.

    - Will Georgia continue to maneuver between the West and Russia?

    -I do not think that Georgia will finally abandon integration with the West, but it is unlikely that in the near future it will take a more consistent stance towards Russia.


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