Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said annexation of Crimea by Russia poses threat to the stability in the region and beyond and parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, condemned Russian moves as “land grab”; opposition UNM party has called on the authorities to take tougher line towards Moscow and to take concrete steps to speed up country’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
Speaking at a news conference on March 19, President Margvelashvili said that Russian moves against Ukraine represent “a problem for global security.”
He said, referring to the 1994 Budapest memorandum, that these developments “may also seriously discredit” nuclear disarmament process. The memorandum provided guarantees of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in exchange for a commitment, since fulfilled by Ukraine, to give up its Soviet-era nuclear weapons.
“We call on the international community to assess existing situation calmly, but in a principled way,” he said. “Naturally we remain beside those civilized countries, which believe that issues between the states should be resolved not through taking over territories or through military force, but through diplomatic negotiations.”
Asked if Georgia should change its policy towards Russia against the backdrop of developments in Ukraine, Margvelashvili responded: “Our foreign policy in respect of Russia has been oriented towards solving all the problems… through international law, negotiations and diplomatic means.”
“Our attitude is unchanged; we are trying to start a dialogue in the language of diplomacy and not of aggression. We try to establish, along with our allies, rational and calm dialogue. This is a strategic way of the west, European Union and the United States; naturally, we are part of this alliance,” President Margvelashvili said.
He also said that Russia’s moves against Ukraine “might have been unsuccessful” if more attention had been paid by the international community to consequences of the August, 2008 war.
“The entire international community, including us, should have probably done more for the prevention of recurrence of such thing six years after [the August, 2008 war],” he said.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said on March 19 that “land grab” by Russia is an “aggression unimaginable in the 21st century.”
“I am sure that it [Russia’s aggression] won’t be left like this and with this confidence we are continuing our efforts for the reunification of our country and as it seems this process will be carried out in close link and in parallel to” Ukraine’s efforts to restore its territorial integrity, Usupashvili said.
Reiterating Tbilisi’s support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said on March 19, that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s March 18 speech announcing the annexation of Crimea was “very alarming”, in which “we hear Cold War rhetoric.”
The UNM opposition party has called on the Georgian government to go beyond rhetoric, to take much tougher line towards Russia and to “fully share and support” the U.S. and the EU sanctions against Russia, as well as to demand speeding up Georgia’s NATO accession.
“It is possible in this new geopolitical reality and depends on efficient work of the government,” MP Davit Bakradze, the leader of UNM parliamentary minority group, said on March 18, adding that the Georgian government should spare no effort for linking de-occupation of Georgian territories to de-occupation of Crimea in West’s policy vis-à-vis Russia.
Former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said in an interview with Imedi TV, recorded on March 17, that he remains in close contacts with GD leadership and discusses, among other issues, developments in Ukraine. He said that the Georgian government should continue its policy of supporting Kiev.
Ivanishvili also said that Moscow “will not step back in respect of Crimea” and the efforts of the West will now be focused on containing the advance of Russia beyond Crimea, namely in the eastern parts of Ukraine. He also said that although right now Western sanctions against Russia are too “soft”, further sanctions will be imposed and the result will be “grave” for Moscow; he said that it will give more space to Tbilisi to carry out its “reconciliation” efforts in respect of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“Russia has no resources whatsoever… to carry out any additional aggression against Georgia; on the contrary, I think, that… the U.S. and the EU [reaction] will result into either very grave or grave [consequences] for the Russian state. Its international standing will become very difficult… and Russia will lose immunity on the international level and I think that it will make easer for use to take care of Abkhazia and [South] Ossetia. But key here is still reconciliation with our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers,” Ivanishvili said.