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Kakha Dzaganya: Georgian labourists are ready to dialogue with Moscow18.11.2008 | 18:40
For the first time in four month one of Georgia's opposition parties undertakes to settle relations with Russia. This was reported by Labour party's secretary Kakha Dzagania in his interview with GeorgiaTimes.
Newsbreak for this conversation was today's press conference of the party's leader Shalva Natelashvili. He informed the journalists that the Labor party political council had decided on renewal of political dialogue with the Russian Federation. The party is ready to negotiate with the Duma deputies, Federation Council senators and other politicians.
The authorities gave an immediate response. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for defense and security Givi Targamadze has already labeled the laborites Russia's "affiliate" in Georgia. He continued: "For those who understand at least something in politics Shalva Natelashvili exposed itself long ego. It's good that finally he did it publicly and on his own initiative. I do believe everything must have its name".
Why did laborists decide to be the first to extend a hand of friendship to the northern neighbor in such a demonstrative way? What is the reason for such an unpopular decision (to put it mildly)? Will it be supported by the country's population that is not inflamed with love for Russia after the August war?
- The decision on continuation of the dialogue with Moscow, - Kakha Dzagania explains - was taken at the closed session of the party. We are convinced that the government has completely lost any capacity to negotiate on an international level. Georgia's population is of the same opinion. All external policy of the country leaders comes to the search of a new master. This has driven our state to the catastrophe. That is why it is crucial to restore good relationships with our neighbor. Directly without intermediaries! It is our party that took it up. And it was us, I remind, who accused Saakashvili of provocation of the war in South Ossetia in the words of its leader Shalva Natelashvili. Essentially he was accused of having allowed Russia to recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. After that Natelashvili suggested voluntary resignation of the current country leaders.
- How exactly is your party planning to implement this initiative?
- The negotiations will be focused on restoration of economic ties, trade and visa relationships. The provocative policy of the authorities led to complete ban on Georgian products on Russian market. And our citizens... First visa-free regime was abolished, and now when the diplomatic relations are broken off it is simply impossible to go to Russia. And lots of our fellow-countrymen are there helping their families that remain in Georgia to survive in severe economic conditions. We must at least get back to the pre-war level of cooperation.
- In our opinion who has burned bridges between Moscow and Tbilisi?
-Both governments - Georgian and Russian. And the people's will was not taken into account at all. Georgians are still well affected towards Russians. I hope you too have not altered your attitude to us. The only way of trust-based dialogue will allow us to build up economic ties and in the future to solve political problems on this basis. The key to restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity is in Moscow, and we would like to bring it back.
- Do you admit the Kremlin might change its position and reject recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
- We are convinced that over time when the dialogue is set right, the economic relationships are normal, cultural ties are restored it will be real to solve territorial issues. There are numerous nuances in the international law that allow eliminating the most complicated problems up to the territorial ones. For the time being we are asking our artists, journalists, scientists, sportsmen for active position full of good will for mutual understanding. We ask them to get engaged in public diplomacy and restore former links with their Russian colleagues.
- But now anti-Russian sentiment is quite strong in Georgia. How was your statement taken by the society?
-Let me correct you: not anti-Russian but anti-Kremlin. Certainly people are hurt: the militaries ruined their homes, they shot and dropped bombs. But there were no anti-Russian sentiment even in the course of the August events. Nostalgia for Russians and not aggression to them is prevailing among the people. The position of the authorities is far from reflecting the people's will. Since childhood every Georgian knows that neighbors must be friends, not enemies.
- Have the laborists met with the representatives of the Russian authorities yet, with the Duma deputies for instance?
-Not yet. No consultations have taken place yet. But we hope that Russia will show interest in our initiative.
-What was the reaction of other opposition parties?