President Saakashvili said that shifting of “occupation line” deeper into the Georgian-controlled areas at some sections of the South Ossetian administrative border was Russia’s “provocation”, which aimed at testing “firmness” of Georgia’s current government.
In televised address on May 31, Saakashvili said that he was not blaming the government for this particular situation on the administrative boundary line, but also said experience showed that “Russia’s strict actions are directly proportional” to Georgia’s “soft rhetoric.”
“There is a threat of losing control over thousands of hectares of land if [this trend] continues,” he said, adding that it was “a very dangerous issue”.
“I want to reaffirm unambiguously my position that I really do not blame for these provocations or for having any link to these provocations [the government] – I do not see a link between these provocations and decisions of the Georgian government. I think that Russia follows its plan… and it makes no difference for [Russia] what actions the Georgian authorities have been undertaking in recent days, weeks or months,” Saakashvili said.
“I think the position of the Georgian government as a whole is correct that we should be maximally cautious and we should not yield to any kind of provocation,” he said.
“I do not want this issue to be used for confrontation between us or for scoring political points,” Saakashvili said.
“I think that with these provocations Russia is testing firmness of Georgia’s new government, unity of political forces within the country and cooperation of political forces within [Georgia] on such fundamental issues.”
“All the governments in Georgia have been a problem for Russia – [President Zviad] Gamsakhurdia was a problem for Russia; [President Eduard] Shevardnadze was a problem for Russia; my government was a problem for Russia and the current government of Georgia is a problem for Russia, because it is not about governments, existence of Georgia as state and as partner is a problem for Russia,” Saakashvili said.
“Now it is about how mobilized we will be and what will be our response to objective reality,” he continued. “Yes of course we should be soft, but I also know very well that during the first years of my government we showed incredibly soft stance towards Russia and our rhetoric was extremely soft, very open and some say even appeasing, but we’ve received nothing from it – that’s my personal and my government’s experience.”
“Today we are in a new reality… in the post-2008 large-scale war reality, so now… all the previous experience should be taken into consideration and the experience shows one thing – Russia’s strict actions are directly proportional to [Georgia’s] soft rhetoric,” Saakashvili said.
“Russia is now testing our psychological stance. I have an impression that we are going back to pre-2003 situation when then defense minister of Georgia was saying publicly: ‘What shall we do, should we fight Russia with slingshots?’ Of course no one is calling on anyone for using armed forces in all such situations; it won’t give us anything in this situation,” he said.
“But psychological stance that we are extremely weak and shattered into pieces, saying that the 2008 August war it was our fault, saying that we were preparing terrorists against Russia… all these weakens our positions and encourages aggressor for further provocations,” he said.
Saakashvili called on the government to use the term “occupation line” when referring to the administrative boundary line. He also said that less use of term “occupation” by the Georgian government resulted into less use of this term in the rhetoric of Georgia’s Western partners.
“We should definitely revise many aspects of our internal politics, because our internal politics causes critical reaction leading to further isolation of Georgia internationally,” he said, adding that the government should intensify diplomatic efforts and the Prime Minister should embark on foreign trips to capitals of Georgia’s Western partners.
“I extend my hand to the Georgian government, offering them to work jointly on all of these strategic security issues,” Saakashvili said.