Nino Burjanadze, ex-parliament speaker and leader of Democratic Movement–United Georgia opposition party, accused the United States of “blatant insult of Georgia’s sovereignty” and criticized the Georgian authorities for not reacting on appearance of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, wanted by Tbilisi, at a hearing in the U.S. Senate’s foreign relations committee.
“This is an insult of our state; this is a continuation of the insulting policy, which was also demonstrated by inviting wanted ex-president as a main guest at [the European Parliament] during ratification of [the Association] Agreement,” she said on March 10.
In his capacity as Ukrainian president’s adviser and chairman of Ukraine’s International Advisory Council on Reforms, Saakashvili testified before Senate foreign relations committee’s subcommittee on Europe and regional security cooperation on March 4, when it held a hearing on “Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.”
“What do declarations by the western states, including by the United States, mean about respecting Georgia’s sovereignty? Respecting Georgia’s sovereignty first and foremost mean that one has to respect the authorities of this country and its decisions and one should not be receiving wanted person,” Burjanadze said.
“I wonder what the United States’ reaction would be if [Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor] Yanukovych was invited in Georgia’s parliamentary committee for foreign affairs. I don’t really respect Yanukovych, but Saakashvili is no better than Yanukovych – the only difference is that Saakashvili is swearing at Russia. So should you be exonerated from everything if you swear at Russia, as if respecting western values? Can one make declarations about respecting sovereignty on the one hand and on the other inviting wanted person in legislative body’s foreign relations committee?” she said.
The party led by Burjanadze, who says that contrary to her opponents’ claims she is not a pro-Russian politician, but “pro-Georgian”, garnered slightly over 10% of votes in last year’s local elections.
“I want to tell U.S. ambassador [to Georgia Richard Norland] that such action will not be perceived as a friendly gesture towards the Georgian people and the Georgian state. I want to assure you that if this situation does not change, stance of the Georgian people towards the United States will change further towards negative direction,” she said.
She said that she was not surprised that the Georgian authorities “failed to voice their protest” over the issue.
“Of course they would not dare, because, unfortunately, they look at the United States not as equal partner, but as a master to whom they should serve obediently. It’s not in Georgia’s interests,” Burjanadze said.