"We must recognize inviolability of borders of all three states of South Caucasus"
    Caliber.Az interview with Professor Kobakhidze


    Tamilla Mammadova
    Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS - 27 May 2022 - 15:14

    Caliber.Az had an interview with Beka Kobakhidze, Georgian historian, and professor at Ilia State University.

    - How do you assess the current foreign policy agenda of Georgia in the international arena?

    - The current Georgian government is trying to play up to Russia, while leaving the way open to the West, actively participating in NATO events, and it has applied for EU membership. Regarding Russia, the government is trying to show restraint, proving that there will not be a second front with Ukraine, that it views the Kyiv administration negatively, and that they are only providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainians.

    Tbilisi politically supports Ukraine only when the whole world does. Our authorities look to both Russia and the West and wait to see what the outcome will be.

    But foreign policy is also influenced by domestic politics, because the main opposition party, the United National Movement, is hostile to the Kremlin. Georgia has repeatedly stated that it will not join the anti-Russian sanctions, trying to please both Moscow and the West at the same time, thus keeping power inside the country.

     

    - Speaking of Ukraine, you are referring to the government. And what is the sentiment in Georgian society on this issue?

    - In Georgia, the majority of the population supports Ukraine. But today, Georgia is not ready for war; the military budget of the country has been cut three times compared to 2007-2008. The Ukrainian government is in a difficult situation, and it considers it important for other countries to open a second front against Russia. The current Georgian government will never do that for several reasons.

    First, Tbilisi's policy is aimed at not annoying the Kremlin. Secondly, our army is not capable of fighting Russia, Georgia has no air defence, and its anti-tank defence is weak. But Ukraine expects more from us and criticizes our authorities, as well as the French President and the German Chancellor.

    Criticism from the Ukrainian authorities is dangerous for the Georgian government because Zelenskyy and his team have high support among the Georgian population. There are unfavourable relations between our authorities due to this fact.

    - I would like to know your professional historian's opinion, on why in 1918, immediately after its formation, Armenia began to make territorial claims against its neighbours - Azerbaijan and Georgia?

    - In 1918, after the collapse of the Russian Empire, there were no united Georgia and Azerbaijan on the territory of the Caucasus. There were provinces - Baku, Yelizavetpol, Tiflis, Kutaisi and Iravan. The population of these provinces was mixed. For example, Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis lived in Borchali county. Different sides had different concepts of history. Our countries were at war with each other because of this, which was to the advantage of Russia and Turkiye, which together conquered and divided the Caucasus.

    As for Armenia, it had very difficult relations with Georgia and with Azerbaijan, while Baku and Tbilisi had very good relations. Georgia and Azerbaijan bordered Russia, which aimed to capture Baku and Tbilisi, and the presence of a common enemy brought us closer together. In addition, we were tied by a number of economic projects. Georgia needed Azerbaijani oil, and Azerbaijan needed a corridor for transit. In other words, we were dependent on each other.

    Armenia needed Batumi port and Georgian railroad, but it could not offer Georgia anything in return. In response, it opposed us on international platforms, claiming that Azerbaijan and Georgia had allegedly seized Armenia's lands. As a result, Baku did not give oil to Yerevan and Tbilisi did not give it the railroad. Therefore, we could not create a union in the Caucasus, as the Baltic states did.

    - What actions are Georgia taking to regain the Lori region?

    - None. Georgia, like Azerbaijan, recognizes the territorial integrity of neighbouring states, including the borders established since 1991. Only Russia and Armenia are trying to revise these borders. If we start looking for the borders of the past, the war will never end on our land. We must recognize the very fact of the inviolability of the borders of all three states of the South Caucasus.

    - Is peace possible between Armenians and Azerbaijanis?

    - This is a very complicated issue, and Georgia is most interested in this. As long as there is hatred between the societies of both countries, this will not happen.

    - How do you assess the current level of Georgian-Azerbaijani relations?

    - Economically we have very developed relations, Baku is one of the main investors in Georgia, it supplies us with energy resources, and it is a very important country for our energy security. I would wish that the length of our border would be reduced, and our countries would always be united in the Euro-Atlantic field.

    Caliber.Az




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