"Georgia is occupied [by Russia], it is difficult for us to resist, but we have to" - President Zurabishvili
Zurabishvili on Georgia, the West and Russia
The conversation with Sevgil Musayeva, editor-in-chief of Ukrayinska Pravda, covered a wide range of Georgia’s relations with the West, Ukraine and Russia.
Seeking to join NATO looks like Georgia has given up on it
“I think you are confusing Georgia and some statements by individual politicians. No politician can ever represent this country and the will of the country on their own. Especially contrary to what the people have repeatedly demonstrated.
From the very first day of gaining independence, all our presidents have been in favor of Euro-Atlantic integration and have worked in this direction. So there are no people who could change it.
Georgia’s course is written in the constitution. And if some people make statements that contradict the constitution, then this is an internal problem of the country. But this is not a signal that Georgia is changing its orientation.
I am confident that Ukraine will move along this path, perhaps sooner than Georgia, thanks to what it has shown in recent months. I know that security guarantees are being negotiated ahead of the next Vilnius summit. I hope it will take place, because it will be another step towards integration into NATO.”
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Why did Zurabishvili never go to Ukraine, despite the fact that many Western leaders visit Kyiv?
“I was always ready to come and today I am ready too. So if you pass on the message, I can come tomorrow.”
Sevgil Musayeva: “But why, in your opinion, did Zelensky not invite you?”
“It’s not personal, and I think not entirely satisfactory relations at this stage between government circles. But I am ready [to come], and I am sure that we will have such an opportunity. I have not yet received an invitation to come to the Crimean platform. I think it’s not organized yet.”
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On integration into Europe: “You can’t lose this opportunity because of the wrong decisions of some people”
“It’s been less than two years since I hosted President Zelensky, President [Moldova] Sandu and President Michel (President of the European Council Charles Michel). We were a successful associative trio that was moving towards the European Union, and there was no feeling that Georgia was retreating.
There has always been movement [toward Europe]. But I think the Ukrainian struggle has opened the door to the European Union. And what was a long-term perspective has suddenly become something within reach.
And that is why the Georgian population has such a lively reaction, which we saw on the streets and which we can see again, because people think that, they say, it is already here, and we can lose it. I don’t want to lose it because some people make the wrong decisions at the wrong time. This is the paradox in which we live.”
On Georgia’s steps to restore ties with Russia, can a railway link be opened?
“I think there are a lot of rumors. I think that Russia has felt that there is some room for maneuver, and they are now probing, this is a very typical Russian tactic.
They [the Russian authorities] are losing the war with you. In my opinion, they have already lost for many reasons – political, psychological, international. They have not completely lost militarily yet, but this is what must happen. There is no other way out of this situation.
At the same time [in Moscow], they receive ambiguous signals from the Georgian authorities. And now [the Kremlin] is probing how far it can go. They tried with the resumption of flights [to Georgia]. Now they might try with the railroad. They are going to try other things as well.
I think it is very important for Georgia to show determination. I understand that Georgia is occupied and cannot pursue a policy of confrontation, but it must be very decisive.”
Abkhazia and South Ossetia – how realistic are the statements “We will return these territories peacefully”?
“There is no point in a second front. And this is something that our Western partners are very well aware of.
I believe that there is a very good prospect for the occupied territories of Georgia, because I am convinced that Ukraine will win the war and fully restore its sovereignty on its territory.
And this will leave no way [to keep] frozen conflicts. We know from the past what that means.”