President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) party said on January 18 that PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s remarks that Armenia was “an example” for Georgia how it is possible to have good relations with both NATO and Russia was “alarming” and “dangerous”.
“Armenia is our friendly state and I respect their choice, but Armenian path and its relation with Russia and NATO cannot serve as [a model] for Georgia; it is in conflict with Georgia’s state interests,” UNM secretary general and former PM Vano Merabishvili said.
A senior UNM lawmaker Giorgi Gabashvili said that Armenia, which is a member of Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and which cooperates with NATO but does not seek its membership, cannot serve as a model for Georgia’s foreign policy.
“It would amount to U-turn in Georgia’s foreign policy,” he said. “This is very alarming and very dangerous for Georgia.”
Another UNM lawmaker Davit Darchiashvili said that “nothing more scandalous and alarming” than that had been said by new government since coming into power three months ago.
“If it was said because of lack of experience that’s also source of alarm,” MP Darchiashvili said.
Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said on January 18 that there were no changes in Georgia’s foreign policy.
“I do agree with the course that Georgia should try to have good relations with everyone. That’s what every normal country tries and many of them achieve it. What the PM said is that it’s desirable to have good relations with everyone,” she said.
When asked during an interview with the RFE/RL Armenian service on January 17, when PM Ivanishvili visited Yerevan, if Georgia’s foreign policy priorities would change, he responded: “In the near future it’s hardly [possible], but in general countries develop, people develop, society develops and they change priorities, but I do not think that in the near future we will be changing our priorities.”
“We have stated about our priorities for multiple times – that’s Europe and Euro-Atlantic alliance; we will unwaveringly follow this path,” Ivanishvili said.
“But in parallel to it a question arises: is it possible to combine restoration of friendly relations with Russia and at the same time to have good relations with NATO and to aspire towards NATO and to have good relations with the United States and NATO-member states? I think that here Armenia is a good example; Armenia gives a good example for Georgia and it can be a source of envy in positive sense,” the Georgian PM said.
“Armenia is on excellent terms with Russia and has friendly relations with [Russia] while also being on excellent terms with the United States and with other NATO-member states. So I think it’s possible and I think that we have to and I believe that we will combine it,” Ivanishvili added.