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Saakashvili to Europe: 'Do not Isolate Belarus'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Jul.'11 / 19:12

President Saakashvili called on Europe not to turn its back on Belarus, saying that isolating this “very European nation” will pave the way for the Kremlin to gain “complete control” over Minsk.

“We are closely following developments in Belarus,” Saakashvili said after meeting with visiting Polish President, Bronislaw Komorowski, in Batumi on July 26.

“We know very well about the problems existing in Belarus, but at the same time we also know very well that claiming that Russia is more democratic [country] than Belarus is utter absurd – unlike Russia, Belarus is not occupying neighboring countries; carrying out policy of isolation towards Belarus, as it sometimes happens, increases chance of putting an end to the sovereignty of Belarus and falling of Belarus under the complete control of Russia’s current government – that would be counterproductive for Europe’s long-term development; [Belarus] is very talented and very European nation and such [a scenario] would be very negative for the entire region,” Saakashvili said.

“So I believe that carrying out a dialogue and talking openly about all the issues, which represent source of great concern for all of us, is needed as never before,” he added.

Saakashvili voiced similar remarks on Belarus while addressing an international conference Georgia's European Way in Batumi on July 22. In his speech Saakashvili said that those willing to isolate Belarus were not willing to apply same standards to Russia.

A September, 2009 confidential U.S. diplomatic cable, released recently by WikiLeaks, shows how concerned President Saakashvili was about possible recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Belarus two years ago. According to that cable, Saakashvili told a diplomat from the U.S. Department of State that in case this recognition, Georgia would have been unable to cooperate with Belarus within Eastern Partnership – EU’s cooperation platform for six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Saakashvili told the U.S. diplomat that if Belarus moved forward with recognition and if in that case EU did not expel Belarus from the Eastern Partnership, then Georgia itself would have had to withdraw.

On the very same day, September 15 2009, when Saakashvili was having this conversation with Tina Kaidanow, then U.S. deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, said that his country’s Parliament would consider whether to recognize or not Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

According to another classified diplomatic dispatch from series of leaked U.S. embassy cables, President Lukashenko complained in October, 2009, that he would be forced to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia in order to get cheaper Russian gas – no recognition from Minks followed.

In November, 2009 Belarus sent three separate groups of lawmakers for a simultaneous, fact-finding visits to Georgia and its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with in an attempt to define a final position on whether or not to recognize the two regions.

In January, 2010 President Saakashvili told visiting Deputy PM of Belarus in Batumi, that he was grateful for Minsk’s “principle, far-sighted and wise position” and thanked Belarus lawmakers for supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Saakashvili was one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate Lukashenko with re-election in December, 2010. Few days later Secretary of Georgia's National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, however, expressed concern over arrest of several opposition politicians in Belarus after the presidential elections.

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