Angela Merkel: “Yes, this is an occupation - 20 per cent of Georgia is occupied”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while meeting with students at Tbilisi State University, used the term ‘occupation’ after being asked twice regarding the matter.
Student Konstantin Shubitidze challenged the Chancellor:
“Is there any problem with the term ‘occupation’, or for what reason do you not evaluate events in Tskhinvali and Abkhazia as an occupation, and why do you only use the term ‘injustice’?”
“Yes, it is an occupation – an occupied territory. I said that this is an occupation, a seized territory of 20 per cent, and that it remains a huge injustice,” Merkel replied.
The answer was met with an ovation.
Prior to this, two students asked Merkel a question regarding the occupation of the territory of Georgia, but the German Chancellor did not use the word ‘occupation’, and instead said that Russia’s actions were simply an ‘injustice’. Shubitidze’s question was the third.
The German Chancellor noted that Georgia is the leader in the region from the point of view of integration with the EU. According to her, ‘Georgia together with Ukraine has the greatest European prospects’.
“…Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, but mainly Georgia, together with Ukraine, has the greatest European prospects. In the next 10 years we will outline the steps that should be taken in the future,” Merkel said.
The students asked Merkel about ultra-right political parties and just how much their skepticism can prevent Georgia’s integration into the European Union.
Merkel answered that the opponents of the enlargement of the European Union are trying to present Georgia, Ukraine and the Balkan countries as if they would create problems when joining the EU.
“How can you intimidate Europeans with Georgia, how can you imagine this situation as monstrous, what ‘problems’ can Georgia’s entry into the European Union create? It’s human emotions, and they are very easy to manipulate, so we need a lot of caution,” Merkel said.
Relations with Russia
“I don’t think that the EU and NATO pose a threat to Russia; Russia needs to understand that the EU and NATO are not their enemies,” Merkel stated.
Merkel stated that Germany wants to have good relations with both Russia and Georgia.
“Germany wants to have very good relations not only with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, but also with Russia. Russia is a very important country in the world … Russia must understand that NATO and the European Union are not its enemies. Russia, of course, complicates the situation in former Soviet Union republics, such as Georgia in the form of South Ossetia and Abkhazia; Moldova has a problem, and Azerbaijan has the same problem as Ukraine,” Merkel said.
When asked by a student on Germany and Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, Merkel replied that they cannot refuse to cooperate with Russia in the direction of oil and gas.
She stated that the main reason is the price of Russian gas which is cheaper than that from other countries.
“Even during the Cold War, Europe and Russia – then the Soviet Union – had close ties in the energy sector. We cannot refuse to cooperate with Russia in the direction of oil and gas. Although we can also receive gas from Azerbaijan, the truth is that the purchasing of this gas is impossible at the same price as that of Russia. I do not mind having trade relations with Russia, we can solve the problem with Ukraine and Georgia and this would be beneficial for people,” Merkel said.