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Ivanishvili Hails Obama-Saakashvili Talks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 31 Jan.'12 / 23:57

Billionaire opposition politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, welcomed talks between the Georgian and U.S. Presidents and said it "had a very positive importance as the United States has once again demonstrated its support towards our country."

He stressed importance of the U.S. President's remarks to explore possibility of free trade agreement between the two countries and said free trade treaty with the U.S. would have "a huge importance for our country, especially after we come into power", as Georgia would benefit from it.

"The U.S. President has once again reaffirmed, that the U.S. supports Georgia's NATO membership," Ivanishvili said in a video released via YouTube on January 31.

"Our President [Mikheil Saakashvili] reacted that the U.S. support was good, but it was not only the U.S. which decides it as it also depends on decisions of other NATO members. I do not think there is any NATO member state, which might be in principle against it [Georgia's membership]," Ivanishvili said. "As you know, absolute majority of the Georgian population also supports it and we too welcome prospect of Georgia's NATO membership. I think, that the only person, who hampers it, is Mr. Saakashvili, who by his actions, especially during recent years of being in power, he opposes prospect of Georgia's NATO membership."

He also said, that pro-government TV channels and Saakashvili's supporters were trying to credit personally Georgian President for this meeting. "Of course that's not the case; it is easy to see, that this meeting was an expression [by the U.S. President] of respect towards our country and the people of Georgia," Ivanishvili said.

He then also added: "But one can really notice some subtext in this meeting, particularly when Obama reminds to Saakashvili that he hopes transfer of power will take place through democratic elections and through legal means."

In general reactions to the meeting of the Georgian and the U.S. Presidents were overwhelmingly positive among politicians in Tbilisi. One of the exceptions was Labor Party leader, Shalva Natelashvili, who said on January 31, that meeting Saakashvili in the White House and praising him for reforms was "a gross insult" of the Georgian people by President Obama. He said that the meeting once again demonstrated, that "Georgia is not only a colony of the United States, but that we are collective slaves of the United States."

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