News / Europe

Georgia PM Optimistic on Russia Relations

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili speaks to VOA at his estate in the Black Sea coast town of Ureki, Georgia, August 5, 2013. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili speaks to VOA at his estate in the Black Sea coast town of Ureki, Georgia, August 5, 2013. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
James Brooke
— On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the war between Russia and Georgia, the prime minister of Georgia extended an olive branch to his giant neighbor to the north.
 
Speaking in Georgian, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili cited “nostalgia” between the two neighboring peoples as the reason for his belief that diplomatic relations between them will be restored.
 
“There is a nostalgia sentiment in Russia for Georgia and there is a nostalgia sentiment also in Georgia for Russian people,” said the prime minister, reflecting public opinion polls that track a reduction of suspicions between the peoples of both countries.
 
Then, he broke official protocol by addressing VOA’s Russian listeners directly, in Russian.
 
“Relations will be restored, and we must do it,” he said in fluent Russian. “I will invest all forces so that relations with our big neighbor will be restored. I think we will be successful.”
 
During his 10-months as head of government, Ivanishvili has succeeded in persuading Russia to end its ban on imports of Georgian wine and bottled water.
 
Not giving up on Abkhazia, South Ossetia

In an essay in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Ivanishvili tied normalization of relations to some sort of return of Georgia’s two secessionist territories under Tbilisi’s control: “Trade with Russia is being allowed to resume as a confidence-building measure, but we remain firm on the return of Russian-occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
 
Ivanishvili, who is also Georgia’s richest man, made his fortune in Russia. He spoke Monday at his estate on Georgia’s Black Sea, a park-like compound that is home to his private menagerie of zebras, peacocks and pink flamingoes.
 
Georgia braces for the anniversary Thursday of the August 2008 war, a conflict that ended with the defeat of Georgian troops.
 
Bitterness over the war help propel Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition to victory in last October’s parliamentary election. Now, Georgian Dream is focused on winning a presidential election, on October 27.
 
After that election, Georgia’s new prime minister says he plans to step out of the front line of politics.
 
“At the latest, by end of this year, I will depart from politics,” he said. “But I will not leave the country. I will move to a harder and tougher place, which is development of civil society.”
 
No ‘selective justice' against Saakashvili

Because of term limits, President Mikhail Saakashvili has to step down on October 31. The prime minister said that his political rival will be welcome to stay in the country - or go abroad.
 
“No one will hold him politically accountable,” the prime minister said. “As for prosecuting him - that is up to the court. And if it will happen and it will happen in the most clear and transparent way possible.”
 
Dozens of former officials of the Saakashvili government have been arrested since the transfer of power last October.
 
The prime minister rejected Western charges that his government exercises “selective justice.”
 
“There is no such thing as selective justice in Georgia today, but restoration of justice,” he said.
 
In The Wall Street Journal essay, Ivanishvili wrote: “Since Georgian Dream's electoral victory last October, citizens have filed some 20,000 complaints against former government officials.”
 
Western governments also have charged that Georgia has helped Iran skirt economic sanctions by allowing Iranians to set up dozens of front companies.
 
“When it comes to Iran, Georgia is, without deviation, closely and exactly following U.N. guidelines,” Ivanishvili said, referring to sanctions drawn up to try to force Iran to drop its nuclear program. “We are very cautious, and we only do what the international community does in relation to Iran.”
 
In June, Georgia re-imposed visa requirements on visitors from Iran.
 
While Georgia’s prime minister promised to step down in four months, he sounded like a man who planned to remain a political force for years to come.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid