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Propagandists label Lukashenko as Saakashvili’s relative24.08.2010 | 11:00
Georgian mass media continue to savor the conflict between Moscow and Minsk over recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Tbilisi is still full of hope that this could bring long-term benefit and set relations with Belarus going. The most curious thing is that Georgia is seriously aimed at military and technical cooperation with Lukashenko. What are the prospects of this idea?
Minsk-Tbilisi relations can't in no way be called stable over the recent five years. In 2005 Alexander Lukashenko decided to introduce visa regime with Georgia accounting this move for necessity to counteract organized and transnational crime. As is known, then Georgia's criminal world was actively using Belarus as a channel to Russia.
In 2007 Georgia had an idea that making friends with Belarusians might be useful. Mikheil Saakashvili sent Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, his teammate, to Minsk with an eye to yield tangible benefit from this cooperation in two-three years' time. Alexander Lukashenko too was determined to establish economic ties with Tbilisi promising to reach a USD 100 mln trade turnover. "We are full of determination to restore and enhance our relations, and even exceed the volumes of the Soviet period", - he stated.
However, things aren't moving. The only achievements between the parties are a ratified treaty on international transport communication as well as sporadic statements on the need to develop economic relations.
Now, however, Tbilisi wants to go at Lukashenko in earnest: Moscow-Minsk differences have been absolutized and the Belarusian leader has been labeled Mikheil Saakashvili's ideological kin. Georgian wordsmiths point to teething growth in trade turnover expressing hope that Belarus will become a new market for wine, mineral water and the citruses. The explanation is simple: upon Georgia's secession from the CIS and closure of the Russian market the republic's main exported items went down considerably.
In addition, local politologists have started discussing Tbilisi-Minsk friendship. As Tornike Sharashenidze, professor with the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and former director of NATO Information Center at Georgia's Defense Ministry stated, both Georgia and Belarus have the only way ahead for them - this is a way to Europe. "Georgia and Belarus have their own problems. But both Georgia and Belarus have a unique vision", - Caucasian Information portal quotes him.
This is not all, as it turns out. Georgian mass media seriously believe scarce economic ties between Belarus and Georgia might grow into military cooperation with time. Thus, as it is believed in Georgia, Minsk will truly supply air-defense means to Tbilisi with Lukashenko lifting barriers for military and technical cooperation with Georgia after "confrontation with Moscow".
Well, now that Ukraine and Israel are winding up their arms shops for the republic, it's high time to start looking for new suppliers. The question is whether Sakartvelo will find new possibilities of the arms market in Belarus? GeorgiaTimes correspondent got in touch with Kirill Koktysh, docent of the political theory department at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, board member of the Association of Political Experts and Consultants asking him to evaluate prospects of such cooperation.
Koktysh: I think Tbilisi and Minsk have poor prospects for this kind of friendship. Speaking about Belarus, it is not interested in a serious row with Russia. The losses in the Russian direction can be incomparable to the gain in the direction of Georgia. Lukashenko has always been a pragmatist, so words and real deeds should be differentiated. Besides, Belarus's consent to head the Collective Security Treaty Organization is a rather clear response to rumors on friendship with Georgia, I guess. That means that agreeing to chair CSTO Lukashenko has disavowed possibilities of deep integration with Tbilisi particularly in military sphere.
Georgian politologists are now saying that Tbilisi and Minks have one way ahead for them - to Europe. How adequate are these evaluations?
Koktysh: they are absolutely inadequate taken that today's Europe is a partly dismembered subject. Euro's recent adventures showed this very well. Europe failed to resist the States' pressure on their currency. The pressure that was announced by Soros and turned out highly effective. Europe will have to make a long way to consolidation. There is no certainty that Europe will make it given confrontation between Old and Eastern Europe. That means, one can want become part of Europe, but there is no Europe as such. At the moment it is not independent - both economically and politically. For the time being it's just a territory.