In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station on January 27 President Saakashvili said that Tbilisi is ready for a dialogue with Moscow to improve ties, which have been strained due to mistakes that have been made by both sides.
“I think that mistakes have been made by both sides. Mistakes have been made by the Georgian side as well. But I also thing that in general our policy is right – we have to strengthen our independence and we have to do this without alienating our neighbors. But our neighbors should also understand that we are an independent state - they should accept it, and moreover they should assist us in this process,” Saakashvili said.
He blamed the nature of “contemporary politics” for the harsh rhetoric that has beenvoiced in recent months by the Georgian officials towards Russia.
“Of course there have been cases when something should have been left unspoken, or at least something should have been voiced in a different manner. But, you know, contemporary politics is something like a race; there are many different kinds of moments and aspects and it is not always possible to control it. People are always expecting your reaction; one should always tell the truth to the people. Sometimes, when you tell the truth it is not always comfortable for other nations or leaders of these nations. So this is a matter of compromise. So when it is up to choice, I would always prefer to be myself and make some political mistakes, rather than to be engaged in this game,” Saakashvili said.
He added that Tbilisi can only welcome the fact that “rhetoric has been toned down” between the two countries.
Saakashvili said that after Russia decided to send its Ambassador back to Georgia, some started to say that Tbilisi should respond with reciprocal conciliatory steps.
“Frankly speaking I do not fully understand how Georgia can respond, because this decision [to return the ambassador] was Russia’s internal affair, because this Ambassador was not expelled by us and we can only welcome that he is now back in Tbilisi... We have not recalled our ambassador from Russia, so we have nothing to respond with to this decision of Russia [to send the ambassador back to Tbilisi],” Saakashvili said.
He said that Georgia can only respond with its “warm heart” and “with readiness to hold a dialogue on all the issues that have accumulated.”
Saakashvili noted that Georgia should only be grateful to those in Russia who have decided to impose economic embargo on Georgia, because it has helped the country to diversify its export markets.
He stressed that Russia’s decision to more than double gas prices for Georgia triggered the country to seek out alternative supplies.
“Sometime in February or in early March, I think that some 80% of Georgia’s gas supply will come from Azerbaijan. We will maintain the Russian source, but, at first, it is not a predictable source and, secondly, the price is huge,” Saakashvili said.