Outatanding Rusian and German experts gathered at the teleconference
The first week of the September has revived the measured and gradual process of the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) formation. It was Armenia that announced the intention to join the union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
President Serzh Sargsyan at the talks in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin said Yerevan will take necessary practical steps towards joining the CU. According to the Russian leader, this Transcaucasian republic’s involvement in Eurasian integration structures will give a powerful impetus to the mutually beneficial economic cooperation. The Russian side, said Putin, supports this decision and will fully contribute to the process.
This meeting discussed another key issue. According to the Secretary of the National Security Council Arthur Baghdasaryan, Russia, Georgia and Abkhazia agreed to the opening of the Abkhazian section of the railway of strategic importance to the economy of Armenia.
It is interesting that this week, almost simultaneously with the Armenian president, the Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili spoke about the country’s Eurasian vector of development. “If ultimately we see that this corresponds to Georgia’s strategic interests, why not? At the present point in time, we have no clear stand on this issue,” said Ivanishvili.
The prime ministers’ words drew a wide response in the Georgian political and expert circles. Up to this point, Georgia’s participation in the Eurasian project was not considered, and by his statement the Prime Minister actually included the item on the agenda, some analysts believe. At the same time, others regard Ivanishvili’s statement as a continuation of the policy of normalizing relations with Russia.
Opportunities and prospects of Georgia’s integration into the Eurasian Economic Union became the main subject of the teleconference linked Tbilisi and Moscow on September 6. Organizers of the meeting were the Youth Public Chamber of Russia and the Georgian NGO Coalition “Eurasian choice – Georgia”. The event was attended by prominent Russian and Georgian government and political leaders, representatives of NGOs, well-known experts and journalists.
The former head of the Department of International Relations of the Parliament of Georgia, Nana Japaridze, based on her many years’ experience in Georgian-Russian relations issues, concluded that on a human level, the level of contacts between ordinary people, the relationship is wonderful. “But at the official level it is as if an invisible conductor’s hand waves and a series of mutual recriminations begins,” she said.
In her opinion, the efforts made today to restore relations in the fields of culture, economy, and sports is a good initiative. Japaridze is sure that such meetings and all kinds of seminars, conferences, workshops, summer camps will help to restore relations between the two nations.
“For more than 20 years, we have been told that the Western orientation is a panacea for all ills, but today the Georgian people are really striving for the Eurasian space. The people suffer because of stupid policies of the former leadership, which created this lie and believed in it and tried to make us believe that Russia is our enemy,” said Japaridze. The Russian people’s good nature and the Georgian people’s friendliness will bring together our countries and help Georgia to join the Eurasian Union, she concluded.
Her speech was commented on by Mikhail Krotov, the adviser to Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and based on his own experience of parliamentary and political activity, he noted that Georgia for 16 years, had been a member of the CIS Interstate Parliamentary Assembly and, regardless of who was in power in Tbilisi, it was always possible to find common solutions to many issues with the republic.
Krotov reminded that after the statement by the president of Georgia on withdrawal from the CIS, the parliament of the country took time to legislate this decision and approved it only after a year. He noted that after the withdrawal from the CIS too, Georgia continued to be a party to 74 contracts concluded within the framework of the Commonwealth. Among them is the agreement on free trade zone owing to which Georgia is now trading free of duty with Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine. According to the adviser to the State Duma Speaker, while remaining participants to the agreements concluded in the framework of the CIS, Georgia indirectly participates in the Eurasian integration.
The Georgian President’s advisor, Van Bayburt in his speech said that all of the Georgian governments wanted good relations with Russia, but stressed that over the past 10 years, Georgia and Russia have been in a state of some biological incompatibility. “And we all must get this incompatibility to remove,” said Bayburt. “We want to hear Russia saying the words of love; we want to hear from it admission that it, too, was wrong... Russia is a strong state, and it must understand that it should not all the time humiliate and insult the poor. And if we hear words of love on the part of Russia, if we are convinced that the Eurasian Union is not a trap, and that its membership does not threaten us, then we will follow this way,” Bayburt assured.
Mikhail Krotov, for its part, tried to explain the interlocutors in Tbilisi that the Eurasian Union is not only Russia. “In this union both Russia and Belarus, and Kazakhstan have an equal voice, said the adviser to Chairman of the State Duma. Unlike the European Union, within the framework of the Eurasian Union, no country loses its sovereignty.”. By the way, he said, Russia’s contribution to the Eurasian Development Fund and Eurasian Anti-crisis Bank established in the framework of this association is much higher than those of Belarus and Kazakhstan. However, these structures issue very favorable loans, Krotov concluded.
The presidential aide Sergei Glazyev said that the two nations’ fates are sealed with blood. “Two hundred years ago, Russia has stood up for the Orthodox Georgia and was forced to start a centenary Caucasian war,” he recalled. “The August conflict 2008 was an episode that left a scar though did not break the foundations of the centuries-old fraternal relations.” In his opinion, a natural platform for building relationships is the Common Economic Space and the Customs Union, and the involvement of Georgia in this process is natural and necessary. As a matter of fact, Glazyev added, through the participation of Georgia in the Eurasian integration it may come to restoring its trade and economic ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Former Georgian State Security Minister Valery Khaburdzania, highlighting the unacceptability of recrimination, stated the need for transition from accusations and evidence to a positive process mode. “Economic processes are inconceivable without political ones. So I want to announce the creation of a pro-Russian party, which will facilitate the transition from recrimination in our relationship to a positive approach. We will create a pro-Russian party with the Eurasian vector. With this party we are going to take part in the parliamentary elections to be held in 2016. And, hopefully, our party will have its own faction in the parliament of Georgia, which will hold our course. With such a force created in Georgia, it will be easier for Russia too to talk with Georgia,” said Khaburdzania.
Director of the branch of the Mir Interstate TV and Radio Company in Georgia, Badri Nachkebia believes that to change the situation in the Georgian-Russian relations it is necessary to make a mental revolution, without which Georgia will not be able to move to the Eurasian space.
Alexander Sokolov, a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation shared his opinion. According to him, the humanitarian integration is always ahead of the economic one. “When the founding father of the European Union was asked, what he would begin with the European integration, if it were possible to turn back the clock, he said – with the humanitarian component,” said Sokolov. Unfortunately, the expert noted, over the last years the media, both in Georgia and in Russia, have done much to create tension in the atmosphere in bilateral relations. “We have a lot of red lines, and they should be got round, rather than crossed. It is much more important to know each other in the present situation,” Sokolov stressed. Therefore, he concluded, it is very important to create a serious public area, primarily among young people, which so far are only aware of each other by the media and school textbooks.
In this regard, a real contribution to the creation of an atmosphere of trust and openness between Russia and Georgia is made by an annual journalists contest among the Transcaucasian countries. This year it is held for the fourth time and has gained wide popularity both in Russia and in the Transcaucasian countries – year after year the number of its participants grows. As a part of the teleconference, General Director of the InfoRos News Agency, Denis Tyurin announced a theme of this contest sounding very actually: “The Sochi Olympics are a common holiday of the peoples of the Caucasus region: sports without enmity and borders.”
Its organizers – the Fund of Unity of Russian and Georgian peoples and the InfoRos News Agency invite young journalists of print and electronic media of the Transcaucasian republics to participate in the creative competition. As the three previous contests have shown, such creative competitions contribute to the preservation and development of cooperation between the representatives of journalistic communities of our countries and allow them to communicate in a friendly, informal and sincere atmosphere, to exchange views and establish personal contacts.