Georgia warns of Soviet restoration

Prime minister denies feeling abandoned by EU’s and NATO’s renewal of normal relations with Russia.

Nika Gilauri, the prime minister of Georgia, has warned the European Union and NATO not to “let Russia get away” with its recognition of two breakaway territories in Georgia, warning that it would then risk encouraging Russia to act similarly elsewhere.

After meetings with EU and NATO officials in Brussels, Gilauri told European Voice today that the EU was doing its best to stabilise the situation in Georgia and that the EU’s planned Eastern Partnership with six countries in eastern Europe and the Caucasus, including Georgia, was “welcome”.

He denied that his government felt abandoned by the recent resumption of EU-Russia partnership talks and of NATO’s consultations with Moscow, announced by NATO foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday.

However, Gilauri warned that Russia’s invasion of Georgia last August was only a first step to realising Russia’s “ambition” to “restore the Soviet Union”.

“Georgia has been chosen by Russia as a kind of experimental country,” he said, citing a stoppage of energy deliveries by Russia in January 2006 as a trial run for the recent gas dispute with Ukraine. “In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and occupied territories of Georgia,” he said. “If the trend continues, you do not know what is going to be next.” No European or non-European country should “allow Russia to get away with anything like that because it just gives them more motivation to do similar things to other countries.”

Gilauri is one of the longest-serving members of the Georgian government following the ‘Rose Revolution’ of 2003, which brought Mikheil Saakashvili to power as president. A former energy and finance minister, Gilauri was appointed prime minister on 6 February. He was in Brussels on his first trip abroad as prime minister.

The EU’s Eastern Partnership is to be launched at a summit in Prague in May and will work towards a free-trade zone and visa-free travel between the EU and the six participants: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and – possibly – Belarus. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European commissioner for external relations, said during a press conference with Gilauri on 5 March that visa facilitation was “one of the most sensitive questions” in relations with these countries. “Let’s hope that things will slowly, slowly go in the right direction” as part of the Eastern Partnership, she said.

Check Also

Five Things Kosovo Must Know Before Doing a Deal with Serbia

Following the election of the new government in Kosovo, the US special presidential envoy for …