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Latvia singing ode to Georgia by US cue card23.08.2010 | 17:21
A Latvian delegation has arrived to Georgia with Latvian ministers for foreign affairs and environment discussing a series of issues that Georgian authorities consider important including attraction of European investments and European integration. The Baltic side promised to offer all possible assistance in solving Mikheil Saakashvili's vital problems. The question is who pays for it. Latvia, Georgia's sister in economic distress, is on the verge of complete poverty.
Constantly heard statements on multilateral cooperation by Baltic states are sticking on teeth. All of them - Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia - pay regular visits to Georgia, though their words account for 10% of real deeds and 90% of blank rhetoric.
This time too, Maris Riekstins, Latvian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, was enveloping Grigol Vashadze in sweet speeches reading his own text, compiled by Latvian speech writers with care as well as a US crib note that Washington had sent a short while before the Latvian side's visit to Georgia. Georgian FM did his best to present exhaustive information on the economic reforms in the country and expressed hope for extension of ties between the two states.
Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also emphasized that the initialing of the treaty on branding of the Georgian produce must foster trade turnover growth between Tbilisi and EU states. No doubt, Latvia is good at playing the part of a lobbyist. But Latvia is not omnipotent. How insane one should be to consider the country on the brink of a technical default - like Georgia is - a real decision maker?
- Any Baltic state is part of New Europe, their share in EU's decision-making is scarce to really help integration or attract investments. This is not a political issue at all since any investor decides without solicitation by politicians, just opening his eyes and seeing the real investment environment: how great political risks are, how favorable the economic climate is and how much the standards adopted in free market work in this or that country. As a promoter, Latvia might be useful to us, but this is just promotion. If reality and advertising don't match, if Georgia fails to comply with the standards it becomes clear that no investments will come to this country. Advertising is one thing while real quality is a completely different matter, unfortunately. And now this gap is glaring. Certainly, America and Europe are now full of words about investing, but the civilized capital does not reach Georgia, unfortunately. Looking at Georgia's investment map who is present on it? Russia, state capital of other CIS countries and some completely obscure capital of undetermined origin. Georgia has no civilized investments, and those that were there are now being withdrawn from the market illustrating the real situation in the country. We are grateful to Latvia, for their attempt to do something, but of all that has been said a lot of things remain unchanged, - Georgy Khukhashvili, expert for economic issues, thinks.
The specialist confesses that today's Georgia has nothing to offer the European Union. Even the goods that can become main exports items don't conform to the standards adopted in international market. Besides, the European market is so overstuffed and highly competitive that even Georgia's most competitive product - wine - can't be promoted in Europe at this stage: it is a rather conservative market.
If Latvia offered some money for rebranding Georgian wines instead of pronouncing speeches, it would be possible to discuss not only political support - but real help. However, not only sober-minded people but even Latvia realize that most frequently the received money is not spent quite efficiently.
Now back to Washington's cue card. At the meeting with Grigol Vashadze Mr. Riekstins paid special attention to the issue of Georgia's role in NATO's international operation in Afghanistan. It sounded like this: increase your contingent, genatsvale! It should be remarked that not only Latvia but other Baltic states don't take part in this operation so panegyrics to Georgian troops that will become Afghanistan's cannon fodder for America's sake look a bit cynical on the part of the Latvian diplomat. Will the Georgian authorities truly believe in statements that the increased Georgian military contingent in the conflict zone will help strengthen Georgia's influence in the international arena?
Giorgy Khukhashvili is not at all surprised at Latvian plenipotentiary ambassador's speech asking the world community not to take his words as Latvia's ad-lib:
- This text is universal, and Latvia does not pronounce it on its initiative. These statements come from the USA, and the Baltic states, like most Eastern European states, drift to American security standards - not the European notion of security. Old Europe has different views on the issue. There is nothing to be said about Georgia's political influence. This is the price that Georgian leadership pays to have a chance to adhere to at least some security system. There is certain political logic in it. Unfortunately, I doubt whether our high activity in Afghanistan will give Georgia a real prospect of entry into the Euro-Atlantic alliance.