While commenting on the arrest of former PM and secretary general of UNM party, Vano Merabishvili, President Saakashvili drew parallel with the arrest of Ukraine’s former PM Yulia Tymoshenko and warned the government against taking steps that might lead to Georgia’s “international isolation.”
“You know that Ukraine’s [former] Prime Minister [Yulia Tymoshenko] was arrested under more serious charges than Merabishvili faces and now Ukraine is frozen in respect of EU integration; this country has actually no progress in respect of EU and NATO; it has serious bilateral problems actually with all the leading European countries, as well as with the United States,” Saakashvili said during a press conference on Tuesday evening.
“So Ukraine, which is so vitally needed for the West, the United States, NATO, became actually in serious international isolation after politically-motivated arrest – as it is considered to be – of former Prime Minister,” he said.
“Georgia is a small country and the West needs us less than it needs Ukraine… But Russia needs us more that it needs Ukraine and it is in Russia’s vital interests to achieve Georgia’s international isolation,” Saakashvili said.
“Everyone should think about political consequences that the arrest of former Prime Minister and secretary general of the main opposition party may have on our country, on its international position,” he said.
Commenting on the arrest of ex-healthcare minister and governor of Kakheti region, Zurab Tchiaberashvili, Saakashvili said: “If there is anyone in Georgia, after me, whom Russia wants to get rid of and destroy, that’s Zurab Tchiaberashvili.”
Tchiaberashvili was Georgia’s ambassador to the Council of Europe (CoE) and then ambassador to Switzerland before becoming the healthcare minister in March, 2012.
Saakashvili said that it was made possible thanks to Tchiaberashvili’s “titanic efforts” to establish term of “occupation” in reference to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the Council of Europe. He said that under the current government this issue “has disappeared from the agenda” of the CoE’s ministerial council.
Saakashvili also said that it was also thanks to Tchiaberashvili that Georgia achieved an agreement on Russia’s WTO membership, which was fully in line with Georgia’s interests.
“There will be a trial and I hope that it will deliver a fair verdict,” Saakashvili said.