Scandal over Saakashvili’s statement

The Messenger, Georgia
March 12 2009

Scandal over Saakashvili’s statement

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 12

While opening the Kopala hotel and entertainment centre in Tskneti on
March 7 President Saakashvili stated that Armenia’s economy had
collapsed, because it is completely dependent on the Russian market
and when the Russian market collapsed the same fate befell the
Armenian economy. These words immediately produced a negative reaction
in Armenia and Russia.

The Russian media said that the owner of Kopala is a Georgian origin
businessman working in Russia, Tamaz Kopaleishvili, and that he also
owns a network of restaurants in Moscow. Saakashvili called him a real
patriot, who despite the global economic crisis and August war had
invested in Georgia. However one does not need to be a fortune teller
to see that the Georgian President has undermined Kopaleishvili
himself. As for an Armenian economic collapse, most probably this
notion is based on the March 3 decision of the Armenian central Bank
to stop making currency interventions and let the Armenian dram float,
something which eventually caused an increase in the dollar rate,
which affected prices of foodstuffs and fuel.

Saakashvili’s statement caused irritation in the Armenian
leadership. The Press Secretary of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian,
Samvel Farmanian, called the Georgian President’s allegations
`absolutely groundless.’ According to spokesperson this is not the
best way to draw peoples’ attention away from Georgia’s internal
problems. He also highlighted that many times the Armenian President
has been asked about the political and social situation in other
countries but has never commented on them.

Armenian Republican Party MP Armen Ashotian stated on March 10 that
Saakashvili is trying to create the illusion that he will cope with
the world crisis better than the Armenian leadership has. Ashotian
thinks that according to various indicators Armenia is resisting the
crisis better than any other state in the region. He thinks that it is
impossible to avoid losses during the crisis but Armenia is doing
everything to make these losses as small as possible.

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