Tbilisi open to cooperation with all – foreign minister

May 7, 2004 Friday

Tbilisi open to cooperation with all – foreign minister


Georgia will no longer play on geo-strategic contradictions; it has
chosen a course towards partnership with everybody, Foreign Minister
Salome Zurabishvili stated.

“Our orientation is that we should move towards Europe, towards the
strengthening of friendship with the United States and integration
with NATO, with very close neighborhood with Russia,” Zurabishvili
told a news conference at the Itar-Tass agency on Thursday.

“Earlier, we had a choice between the main players, and Tbilisi
played on contradictions between them, but it gained nothing. Our
true way is cooperation with all. We want everybody to cooperate with
us,” she said.

The Georgian foreign minister noted a positive role of Russia in
settling the conflict in Adzharia. “The important role of Russia is
clearly visible in these events,” she said, “democracy in Georgia has
scored another victory peacefully, for a second time in the past six
months,” Zurabishvili said.

Igor Ivanov took part in this process in both cases, she added.

Ivanov, on the Russian president’s order, visited Georgia for
consultations over settling the crisis in Adzharia.

As the Russian foreign minister, he took part in a peaceful
settlement of the situation during the velvet revolution in Georgia
last year.

The Georgian foreign minister said she did not want “to draw a
parallel between problems of Adzharia and Abkhazia, but a peaceful
solution of the Adzharian problem has an important significance for
Abkhazians as well.”

Unlike Abkhazia, Adzharia had no conflict provoked by separatism, she
said, “it was a conflict between democracy and non-democracy.”

At the same time, Zurabishvili categorically denied the existence of
the so-called Adzharian scenario for Abkhazia. She expressed doubts
that “somebody in Abkhazia was planning to blow up bridges.”

“This is no approach to the solution of the problem,” she said.

Georgia received the support of all its partners in settling the
situation in Adzharia. “Adzharia was an enclave of the old era which
has no future either for us or our neighbors and partners,”
Zurabishvili said.

“Therefore the solution of this problem has an important significance
both for the Georgian people and our partners,” she underlined.

Answering a question, she said “terrorism is a global danger
threatening all states, especially small countries in strategic
regions, where it is difficult to control the movement of people. It
increases terrorists’ chances of hiding,” she said.

“In this context, there was a danger of Adzharia’s turning into the
so-called “black hole,” the foreign minister added.

“As regards the situation in the Pankisi Gorge, Georgia took dramatic
measures /in settling the situation/, while Americans provided
serious assistance to us. We took joint measures with Russia in
patrolling the state border; we believe this issue is among those
where cooperation is possible among all European countries and the
United States,” Zurabishvili said.

In her view, neither Russia nor Georgia are interested in delaying
the solution of the issue of the Russian bases in Georgia.

Georgia does not need these or other bases, she stressed noting that
it was one of the main issues at her talks with Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Tbilisi has a pragmatic approach to cooperation within the CIS
framework and interaction with the neighboring countries, the
Georgian official said when answering a question about the importance
of the Commonwealth of Independent States for it.

CIS members are very important, from Georgia’s immediate neighbors,
such as Armenia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, to those of strategic
importance for Tbilisi.

Salome Zurabishvili flew to Moscow on Thursday and held talks with
her Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov. The main items on the agenda
were Russian-Georgian relations and the situation in Adzharia.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili appointed Salome Zurabishvili
the foreign minister in March. A Frenchwoman of Georgian descent, she
was France’s ambassador to Georgia and has dual citizenship – French
and Georgian.

She was also France’s ambassador in Italy and worked at the United
Nations and NATO. Salome Zurabishvili is a fluent speaker of Russian.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS