Expert: Georgia, Ukraine both make mistake of aggravating bilateral ties
Giya Japaridze for Caliber.az
INTERVIEWS - 19 May 2022 - 15:54
Caliber.Az presents an interview with Giya Japaridze, a Georgian diplomat and expert on international relations.
- I would like to know your professional diplomat assessment of the Georgian government's current foreign policy.
- I do not assess it very positively. Tbilisi is very passive in its foreign policy activities in the international arena.
When Ivanishvili started his political activity, he openly declared that Georgia must not be a problem between the West and Russia, in other words, the country must be as quiet as a lamb. But it does not correspond to our political interests.
- What is the main difference between Tbilisi's foreign policy under Saakashvili and under Ivanishvili?
- The difference is in passivity. I cannot say that Saakashvili's foreign policy was fundamentally different from that of Shevardnadze, except that the latter was more cautious, while Saakashvili wanted to achieve all goals quickly. Today, Georgia is no longer knocking at the door of NATO and the EU, it is waiting for those doors to open on their own. Georgia's Constitution states that our goal is to join NATO. But if you ask what we are doing to join these organizations, nothing comes to my mind.
Yes, we have taken joint steps with Ukraine and Moldova to get associate member status with the EU, but the country has to meet specific criteria that the EU sets for us. We have some problems in this respect.
The same is true for NATO. It is difficult to say that Georgia has made any breakthrough in this direction over the past 10 years. Apart from that, we have problems with occupation. However, nothing is being done within the state to achieve its goals.
- By the way, Finland and Sweden have already applied to join NATO...
- Yes, they will most likely be accepted into NATO, and this is what the Kremlin was most afraid of. There are several factors there, firstly, geographical position, secondly, democracy, thirdly, their readiness to join NATO, and fourthly, the strategic choice of NATO. Finland and Sweden have a high level of military industry, they have developed consolidation and democracy. As we know, geographically, Georgia is not the best location.
- You mentioned the occupation. What are the authorities doing to restore territorial integrity to Georgia?
- There have been changes in the system of international relations. Much depends on the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian war. After every war, peace comes and the victors agree to a new world order, which will be ruled by the United States, Britain, the EU, and Ukraine.
Our task is to be on the side of the world that includes the United States, NATO, the EU, Ukraine, and Turkiye. That is the way we will be able to solve the problem of occupation. I cannot tell you the exact time, but the occupation of our lands will definitely be solved, and it will be done in favour of Georgia.
- How close has Georgia become to the West?
- It has not over the last 10 years. We have not moved from the point where we have been since 2012. But all that will change, and a lot depends on the outcome of the war in Ukraine, which will be positive for all of us.
- If you see Georgia next to Ukraine in the future, what can you say about the current cooling of Georgian-Ukrainian relations?
- I believe that what is happening now in relations between our countries is not beneficial for both of us. This situation benefits only Russia and those states that are sceptical about the accession of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to NATO and the EU.
Both Georgia and Ukraine make the mistake of aggravating bilateral relations. Both Tbilisi and Kyiv must realise that the strength is coordination and cooperation.
Georgian society has formed the idea that the fate of the current Georgian government depends on the outcome of the Ukraine war. If Putin loses in Ukraine, the Georgian Dream will lose power. Ukraine must respond to the provocations that come from the Georgian government. Georgian-Ukrainian relations be settled only after the Georgian Dream leaves.
- How do you view the idea of restoring "USSR 2.0" which some Russians bear in mind?
- This is just a sick man's ghostly idea that will never come true. Citizens of all former Soviet republics do not see themselves in this delusional project.
- How do you feel about Azerbaijan's resolution of the Karabakh conflict?
- Georgia has always supported Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Moscow created this conflict, and since then the whole South Caucasus has been a prisoner of this conflict. Azerbaijan had every right to restore its territorial integrity.
I think that after the second Karabakh war the situation in the South Caucasus will change completely, and we must take advantage of this opportunity. As a result, the value of the South Caucasus will increase worldwide. We must share solidarity, just as the Baltic countries.
Georgia and Azerbaijan are strategic partners and our countries can coexist only together with mutual support. Our importance depends on our partnership relations, and they are at a high level.
- So you believe that peace between Armenians and Azerbaijanis is possible?
- Despite the difficult past, I still remain an optimist. Armenia at this stage is not interested in aggravating the situation in the Caucasus, especially after the Ukrainian events, because its ally, Russia, is losing in Ukraine. We should help Armenia to get out of the economic blockade, to promote its economic development because then our region will become even more attractive to other countries.
- Recently President Ilham Aliyev proposed a format of regional cooperation between Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. How do you see the prospects for this format, and how will it differ from the "3+3" format?
- I do not think that the "3+3" format can take place at all. First of all, after February 24, 2022, Russia will never be the same. Everything is changing. Secondly, Ilham Aliyev's idea was voiced once by both [former late Georgian and Azerbaijani presidents] Eduard Shevardnadze and Heydar Aliyev. I support the idea of South Caucasian solidarity and think that all states in our region should strive for cooperation. Our strength lies in our unity.
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