Georgian PM's Appeal to Russia Causes Diverse Reactions in Tbilisi

Shameful and cynical - is how some of the Georgian opposition parties and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) spoke of Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s appeal to the Russian authorities.

The Georgian PM’s address reads that Moscow's recognition of the independence of Georgia’s two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) has brought to a deadlock all prospects of possible normal relations between Georgia and Russia.

Kvirikashvili reminded the Kremlin that the coming August marks the 10th anniversary of the August 2008 War, after which Georgia cut all diplomatic ties with Russia for backing the two separatist regions and recognizing them as independent states.

“Today, we are facing a choice: meet this anniversary with mutual accusations and harsh statements, of which there has certainly been no lack throughout these years, or take sensible steps, even small, to lead our relations out of this vicious circle,” the letter reads.

Kvirikashvili also underlined that Georgia is ready for direct dialogue with the Abkhazians and Ossetians, noting that a constructive approach from the Russian side would be welcomed in this context.

The main reason for the PM’s appeal was the tragic incident in occupied Tskhinvali, which saw a Georgian man, Archil Tatunashvili dying in unclear circumstances two weeks ago.

“Tatunashvili’s body has yet to be handed to his family, despite much effort to that effect from the Government of Georgia, the Catholicos-Patriarch, and the international community,” the letter reads, adding that this undermines the prospects of regulating Georgia-Russia relations.

“I urge the leadership of the Russian Federation to take joint steps to resolve this complicated situation, while fully embracing our responsibility to the present and future generations,” the PM added.

The United National Movement (UNM) opposition believes that Kvirikashvili should not have had such a “calm and constructive” tone in his letter to the occupant neighbor.

They think the idea of the appeal belongs to tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s former Prime Minister and the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, who is often accused of serving the Kremlin’s interests.

“When we are refused the opportunity to have our citizen’s [Tatunashvili’s] body back, the PM is voicing Ivanishvili’s ideas that a policy of compromise is the only way to deal with Russia,” the UNM’s Salome Samadashvili stated.

Another parliamentary opposition party, European Georgia, also believes the PM’s statement was improper, claiming that “it will not bring any results.”

“The policy which this government has towards Russia has brought only negative results. I believe that sending such letters will not improve the situation or change Russian policy. All we need is a long-term and consistent policy within and outside the country,” Giga Bokeria, a leader of European Georgia, stated.

However, a leader of Russia-affiliated Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG), Irma Inashvili, took Facebook to criticize all political forces which had slammed Kvirikashvili for his appeal.

“In the current situation, the appeal of the Prime Minister of Georgia to the Russian authorities is a crucial political step and a statement with very specific messages. Those who criticize Kvirikashvili for this statement are the enemies of our country!” Inashvili’s post reads.

The GD majority says the PM’s decision was a “wise step” aimed at defusing current tensions.

“This is a statement of a responsible leader. I believe this is an approach approved by the international community,” Deputy Parliament Speaker, Gia Volsky said.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Vice-Premier and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, expressed hope that Russia will fulfill not only Georgia’s requirements but also the obligations undertaken before the international community.


Thea Morrison

12 March 2018 19:20