United National Movement (UNM) opposition party criticized PM Irakli Garibashvili for saying in an interview with BBC that Russia is not interested in annexing Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and accused him of failing to defend state interests on the international arena.
UNM’s foreign secretary, Giga Bokeria, said that Garibashvili sounded “self-complacent” as if Georgia has already resolved all the problems with Russia.
“He did not mention any single problem – neither occupation nor displaced persons and moving of occupation line [deeper into the Georgian-controlled areas]; his only message was that they [the Georgian authorities] are very tough and have resolved all the problems with Russia. Instead of trying not to make the world forget about our problems against the background of the Ukrainian crisis, he had a message opposite to that,” Bokeria said.
UNM’s Zurab Tchiaberashvili said that the PM “does not dare to call Russia by its right name – the occupying force” and its appeasement will only damage Georgia’s interests, encouraging Russia to do with Georgia’s breakaway regions what Moscow has done with Crimea.
PM Garibashvili responded by repeating what he said a day earlier that he thinks Russia is not interested in annexing Georgia’s breakaway regions.
“Each and every statement and action of mine is tailored to the state interests… Every word is measured for hundred times and aim at strengthening the state,” he told journalists on June 12.
“I am interested less in what our opponents will say, I am interested in what the people will say,” he said.
“One reality is that 20% of our territories are occupied, but another reality is… that Russia is not interested in annexation of these two regions – that’s the reality and there is no need to cause any stir about it,” Garibashvili added.
Commenting on this issue, Defense Minister Irakli Alasania said on June 12: “Even the god does not know whether Russia will annex [Abkhazia and South Ossetia] or not. There is only one man who takes such decisions – Putin and neither our Prime Minister nor the most powerful intelligence agencies will have information about it.”
Meanwhile, ex-speaker of parliament Nino Burjanadze, leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia, hailed the PM for non-confrontational rhetoric with Russia, but added that his rhetoric will remain only “empty words” without a high-level meeting between the Georgian and Russian leaders. She said it would be impossible to achieve a breakthrough with Russia “without a meeting with Putin.”