Nino Burjanadze, the leader of non-parliamentary opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, said that Russia-proposed new treaty with breakaway Abkhazia was Moscow’s reaction to Tbilisi’s endless talk of NATO training center in Georgia and the country should now decide between “illusionary NATO membership” and restoration of territorial integrity.
Burjanadze, whose coalition of several non-parliamentary opposition parties garnered slightly over 10% of votes in local elections this June, criticized PM Irakli Garibashvili for, as she put it, “parroting” parliamentary opposition UNM party on Russia and NATO.
Speaking at a news conference on November 18, she said that Georgia’s “close cooperation with the EU is very important and we believe that this cooperation should continue.”
“But the Georgian government should learn once and for all that Georgia’s supreme goal is and should be not joining any international organization, but the territorial integrity, stable and democratic development,” said Burjanadze, who was parliament speaker in 2001-2008. “In this regard, the Georgian government should make a clear distinction between membership in NATO and the EU.”
“If we fail to resolve our territorial problems, the country will fail to be either democratic or strong, so talking only about the Western orientation and doing nothing will bring nothing to Georgia,” she said.
She criticized PM Garibashvili’s remarks about Ukraine after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on November 17.
“Garibashvili’s remarks that developments in Ukraine represent continuation of the August, 2008 war is parroting of Saakashvili and amounts to justifying of Saakashvili’s action, which brought upon us the August 2008 events,” Burjanadze said.
“This statement directly means saying no to a dialogue with Russia. With this statement Garibashvili has closed for himself any possibility for talks with Russia. It will not contribute to resolving issue of our territorial integrity in any way,” she said.
“The Georgian government is competing with the United National Movement in raising even higher the Euro-Atlantic flag and in giving even more strong assessments to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Adequate assessments are needed, which will not close window of opportunity for talks [with Russia],” Burjanadze said.
“I have warned the Georgian authorities that speaking permanently about deployment of the NATO training center in Georgia would have definitely caused Russia’s sharp reaction and offering new treaty to Abkhazia was that very reaction. The Georgian authorities are going to Brussels like kids and complaining before [NATO and the EU] officials about that treaty instead of talking with the Russian authorities, with Abkhazians and Ossetians,” Burjanadze said.
She also said that authorities’ “rhetoric” about NATO and in overall “the path, chosen by the government, will not solve our problems.”
“It will not speed up our NATO membership – which is absolutely an illusion, and it will neither promote our relations with the EU,” she said.
“The government should tell the truth to the people and say that we are facing a choice – either Georgia without Abkhazia and Samachablo [South Ossetia] or new policy, which does not at all mean saying no to sovereignty and friendship with the West,” Burjanadze said.
“The people should then decide whether or not we are saying no to return of Abkhazia and Samachablo at the expense of illusionary NATO membership,” she added.