Irakli Alasania, leader of opposition Alliance for Georgia and Tbilisi mayoral candidate, said he deemed it important “to seriously start thinking about establishing normal relations with the Russian Federation”, calling it Georgia’s “vital interest.”
“The Russian Federation has a special role in global security. Georgia, a country which aspires to be part of European house, has no other way than to take into consideration in its foreign policy this reality,” he said in an interview with the Georgian daily, Rezonansi, published on April 15.
“Despite the current difficult situation, which at a glance looks like to be a deadlock, I think that resources to launch political dialogue between the Russian Federation and Georgia exist,” Alasania is quoted by the newspaper.
He said that he did not see any sign that the international community would revise its current policy of non-recognition of Georgia’s two breakaway regions. “But at the same time, sooner relations with the Russian Federation are restored, it will definitely contribute to the security of our country,” he said.
“I think, that today we can raise restoring trade, economic, culture and humanitarian ties as major issues. And I can tell you directly that this is a desire of majority of our society and our national interests should be our first priority. It is in our vital interests to normalize relations with our neighbor, which possesses nuclear weapon,” he said.
Alasania also said that his meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, on a sideline of the Munich security conference in early February was a source of “cautious optimism” for him.
“We spoke about future of Georgian-Russian relations and I have seen his [Lavrov’s] desire in having more normal relations and in having these relations based on restoration of mutual confidence. It was during that conversation, when an opinion was expressed that restoring trade-economic and cultural-humanitarian relations would be a starting point for beginning to think about resolving much more problematic and sharp issues,” he said.
“I have also seen that there is not a single issue in bilateral relations that can not be possible to resolve,” Alasania added.
“So, today, when Europe is establishing much closer relations with Russia, we have to do something based on our interests. We will be able to better guarantee protection of our national interests, if we manage to normalize relations with Russia.”
He also said that fueling tensions in North Caucasus was a threat for Georgia too. “So I think there should be issues of shared interests [between Georgia and Russia],” Alasania said.
“Georgia should become an issue of accord, instead of confrontation between Russia and the west. It must be a priority of our foreign policy.”
He also said that normalization of relations with Russia would also contribute to a long-term settlement of Georgia’s conflicts.
“As far as occupied territories are concerned,” Alasania said, “I am sure, that Georgia’s new authorities, which will be able to bring confidence in relations with Abkhazians and Ossetians, as well as to launch talks with them on implementing European-funded trade-economic, communications, infrastructure project, will manage to achieve consent [of the breakaway regions] on co-existence in a common space. Naturally, it requires restoring of normal relations with the Russian Federation and also their [Russians’] contribution to restoring of peace in Georgia and restoring rights of Georgian population in the occupied territories.”