The country of Georgia is a mess, even more so than the crazy way they spell everything. Putin has already conquered half of it and is trying to intimidate the other half into becoming Russian – but has met some unusual resistance. This fellow is one of the guys I think Putin thought he could count on – but maybe NOT! The Georgian Dream Party this guy heads was a front for a Russian Billionaire buddy of Putin’s named Bidzina Ivanishvili — but seems to be breaking away from the former “Boris”.
I was blown away by this interview with The Georgian Dream Party head and Georgian president in Forbes – this guy is rationale, smart, poised and understands the Putin problem right down to it’s roots.
It’s a shame people like Putin and not guys like this get to make the decisions regarding his own country’s future. Note his explanations about why Putin feels entitlement to his course of action, thoughts I estimate are very accurate.
From Forbes Georgia editor, Guga Sulkhanishvili
President Giorgi Margvelashvili, initially a protégé of pro-Russian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, recently had a fallout with members of his own political party, Georgian Dream, and now appears more independent and assertive, but the country’s mixed messages pose questions about Georgia’s course as he reassures that the country will stay on track to the EU and NATO and condemns Russian aggression towards its neighbors, but at the same time, remains loyal to the idea of restoring Georgia’s ties with Moscow.
Forbes: Does the government of Georgia think that the reason for the geopolitical conflict between the West and Moscow is the Kremlin’s aggressive attempt to restore control over Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and the Baltic states?
Margvelashvili: Regardless of what we think, this is what the Russian high-ranking officials declare. Part of the Russian foreign policy doctrine is that the territory of the former Soviet Union is regarded as the so-called “privileged zone of interest.” This approach poses a threat to Russia itself. For over 20 years none of the mentioned countries have shown aggression towards Russia. In fact, I cannot name a single country that would have an aggressive policy against Russia.
Some countries are more diplomatic than others. However, they all strive to be more protected and have a constructive economic, cultural and trade dialogue with the Russian Federation. The basis for this dialogue must be recognition of one another’s independence and sovereignty. It is not uncommon for a leader of a big state to exercise its influence over its neighbors; however this should not happen in the form of oppression.
Unfortunately, Russia believes that it has exaggerated rights, which resulted in the occupied Tskhinvali, occupied Abkhazia, the annexed Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and the problems that Moldova faces today. These are territories where Russia cannot control the traffic of drugs and other processes. Having such uncontrolled territories along its borders does not bring anything good to Russia. Instead of these uncontrolled territories, Russia could have had a stable, democratic and united Georgia to support its borders from the South. Russia could have had a democratic and economically strong Ukraine to protect its western borders. Russia could have had successful trade relations with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, as it does with the Baltic States. Russia would have definitely benefited from this. We simply ask for the recognition of our territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Forbes: How can you explain that most post-soviet states prefer a pro-European, pro-Western course to Putin’s Eurasian Union
Margvelashvili: The economic market of the European Union is larger and more attractive. I would like to stress once again “against nobody and at nobody’s expense.” How can Georgians have a negative attitude towards Russia or the Russian State? The fact that we prefer to trade with a stronger market does not necessarily mean that our free trade mode with Russia needs to be reconsidered. Georgia is open to Russian investors. Our choice is based purely on economic calculations. Every country is entitled to make its own choice. For us, the European market is bigger and more stable.
Forbes: How would you describe Vladimir Putin as a political figure?
Margvelashvili: It is hard to talk about Putin in an open discussion like this. I am interested in Putin based on the fact that he can actually resolve the most difficult problems that Georgia is facing. (Russian occupation of Goergia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia – Forbes) I hope that he is in favor of rational politics and that the time will come when Georgia and Russia will be able to build relations.