Obama thinking about Russia01.02.2012 | 20:18
Mikhail Saakashvili has finally waited what he wanted. The Georgian president has been invited to the United States where he's met with Barack Obama. Saakashvili called the talks in the Oval Office "highly productive", though, later he talked with the press tersely and regularly. And did not even comment Obama's reservation, who, speaking of his assessment of "the ongoing institution-building" in a country said "Russia" instead of "Georgia".
Immediately after the "Rose Revolution" and Mikhail Saakashvili's coming to power an anecdote was born: U.S. President made a working visit to the State Georgia (US), where he met with Governor Michael Saakashvili. Neither George Bush nor Barack Obama have visited Tbilisi. As for Saakashvili's visit to the United States, the Georgian president has not been called there for long enough.
In general, Saakashvili's coveted dream is realized. The President of Georgia visited Washington at last. There, in the Oval Office, Saakashvili spoke with Barack Obama, and then with journalists.
Media has been eagerly awaited revelations by Saakashvili. However, the Georgian president was terse and evasive. Commenting on the outcome of the conversation in the Oval Office, he said that he "has got everything he wanted". He said that he and Obama have agreed on the following issues: cooperation in the military field and preparation of a free trade regime between the U.S. and Georgia. Saakashvili stressed the importance of different kinds of military agreements. According to him, the U.S. president supports Georgia's integration into NATO.
In conversation with journalists Saakashvili repeatedly said that Georgia - it's "closest US ally in the region". Through this role, the former Soviet republic is in the closest relations with the United States, from day to day will get free trade with "Uncle Sam", will join NATO and so on. Saakashvili stressed that military cooperation between the U.S. and Georgia would be beneficial to both parties.
Later, the journalists started questions. From an outsider's viewpoint it looked as if the United States treated Georgia the same way as Nicaragua in times of dictator Somoza. The White House has invested huge money in the Georgian airfields in Marneuli and Vaziani, military bases and naval port of Batumi. Country is full of the courses of English language. It would seem to be good, though, the teachers there are random people with a dubious background. Georgian opposition believes that the true objective of the courses is not teaching English, but promotion of the American way of life. Another one of the geopolitical point of "cooperation" of Washington and Tbilisi are Georgian soldiers on contract. They are needed as cannon fodder in Afghanistan. Those who are declining to participate in "peacekeeping operations", were fined the large sum of money.
These things look different in press release of the White House. In the final paper for the media, Washington's plans for Georgia were described as "the development of cooperation based on successful programs, which aim to assist and reform the Georgian armed forces, support for working with coalition forces in Afghanistan, as well as more effective cooperation with NATO".
Following the meeting of the two leaders, a briefing for journalists was held. During the event, Obama has praised Georgia for its success in building democratic society. "Georgia is a model of democracy and transparency in the region. And I hope that many countries in the coming years will say that if Georgia succeeds in it, we'll succeed too". Continuing his point, Obama made exactly the same reservation, made by his predecessor George W. Bush. Speaking about his appreciation for the "ongoing institution building", Obama called Georgia ... Russia. Saakashvili pretended not to hear this reservation, and then reported: "We will continue to move toward democracy. Georgia will take the way of progress and we won't return to the retrograde political system". Both leaders have preferred not to comment their statements in detail.
From an outsider's viewpoint, the meeting of the two presidents looked like a pre-rehearsed performance. A lot of words but little essence. Andrey Areshev, expert of Center for the Study of Central Asia and Caucasus (Institute of Oriental Studies) shared his opinion on this matter.