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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

Border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared their stories More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs