Sargsyan strikes back09.11.2011 | 12:55
Diplomatic scandals between Georgia and Armenia don't look sensational any more with relationships getting worse day after day. Whose fault is it that the conflict has sprung up, and can two Caucasian republics avoid alienation? Will Tbilisi and Yerevan be bitter enemies or will they manage to restore bygone ties? GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed that with Vladimir Zakharov, director of the Institute of political and social research of the Black Sea and Caspian Region.
South Caucasus has always been the territory of unrest. Now this is one of the hottest spots on earth standing on a threshold of a local "cold war" provoked by hot temper of Georgia's high-ranking officials. On one hand, they declare readiness to make friends with all countries in the region (naturally, except for Abkhazia and South Ossetia). On the other hand, they easily insult neighbors. Not long ago Mikheil Saakashvili, the main rose revolutionist, came up with the following statement commenting on tragic events on the Georgian-Armenian border resulting in several human deaths, including citizens of Georgia. The president decided to extend condolence to relatives of the dead with severe criticism of Armenian authorities. "One of the drivers, a citizen of Georgia,
said in front of the cameras: "If the Georgian authorities had interfered, the place would have been cleaned up in two hours. A few hours passed and nobody came yet". I have nothing to say against Armenia, they are our friends. But it took Ramaz Nikolaishvili just a few hours to solve a much more complicated task. Yet, they needed almost two weeks. See the meaning of the efficient state administration", - Saakashvili said.
Ramaz Nikolaishvili is Georgia's minister for regional development and infrastructure. He is the man that failed to prepare the infrastructure of the republic for rain showers the country faced last summer. Restoration works were not the signature of Mikheil Saakashvili's favorite either. However, even if Mr. Nikolaishvili was professional to the bone, it is wrong to use his "bright" figure as an example to tease the neighbors. That is why official Yerevan's reaction is understood. At first they tried to wear off a negative impression of insults from their Georgian counterparts. Even PM Tigran Sarkisyan called people of the republic not to be overly reactive to Tbilisi's escapades. Yet, the Armenian side, not receiving apologies, cancelled president Serge Sargsyan's visit to Georgia. Only then did they realize what they had done and sent Georgian FM Grigol Vashadze to clear the mess made by his careless masters.
Vladimir Zaharov, a well-known Russian politologist, believes that the head of Georgia's foreign ministry will have to work hard, since the image of official Tbilisi in the eyes of Armenian authorities is undermined. "A new turn of "shuttle democracy" will start. In reality, Georgia realizes that falling out with Armenia makes no sense. Georgia earns a lot as a transit country for Armenia. These are huge amounts, I reiterate. Now we will see diplomats of two countries bargaining over the issue", - he said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes correspondent.
According to Zaharov, Armenia realizes that the situation was provoked by Mikheil Saakashvili's unrestraint. Still, his high position does not allow Yerevan to leave Saakashvili's words unnoticed. "The situation in the region is not simple. It gets even more complicated with Saakashvili's verbal impulsivity. He expressed discontent over Armenia, though he had been there a short time before and given a high award. This insolent attitude could not be left without a reaction. For Armenia it is clear that the Georgian president can't be trusted. Serge Sargsyan was right to cancel his visit. He understands that the Georgian nation is fundamental in Caucasus. He has respect for Georgian culture but he does not want to maintain relations with president Saakashvili. He was literally given a spit in the face", - our interlocutor thinks.