Screengrab from Russian NTV channel showing interview with Nino Burjanadze
Nino Burjanadze, leader of opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia party and former parliament speaker, met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, as well as Russia’s State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin in Moscow.
“Views were exchanged on perspective of improvement and development of Russian-Georgian relations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a brief press release on July 10.
Burjanadze, who visits Moscow upon State Duma’s invitation for participation in a “roundtable discussion on acute international legal problems in the 21st century”, also gave lengthy interviews to Russian NTV and Rossiya 24 television channels.
She said that that during the meetings with the Russian officials she has seen that there is “a real desire to understand problems of Georgian-Russian relations and to contribute to their resolution.”
Burjanadze said that the Georgian authorities are not taking “enough steps that would develop direct dialogue between Georgia and Russia, therefore I am doing my best to build these contacts and to somehow create condition for a dialogue on painful issues” involving Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
On Georgia’s NATO integration, Burjanadze said in the existing situation it is neither realistic nor in the interests of Georgia to become a member of the alliance.
“At first we should admit that no one is waiting for us in NATO and no one is accepting us into NATO – it is absolutely obvious. And on the other hand in the condition when there are Russian military bases on the territory of Georgia [in Abkhazia and South Ossetia], speaking about NATO military bases in rest of Georgia or about Georgia’s NATO accession is neither realistic nor in the interest of Georgia,” Burjanadze said in an interview with NTV channel, adding that there should be no foreign military bases on the territory of Georgia.
Asked about appointment of Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili as governor of Odessa region in Ukraine, Burjanadze said: “I feel sorry for the Ukrainians because I know real price of Saakashvili’s reforms and on the other hand I am upset, like many others in Georgia, by the Ukrainian leadership, which, to be honest, gave a slap in the face of the Georgian people with this appointment, because Saakashvili is wanted by Georgia.”
She also said that this appointment is “part of a project, which is implemented now in Ukraine; it is obvious that certain circles of the United States were implementing specific project in Georgia part of which was Saakashvili and his team and now the same team is implementing the same project in Ukraine – that project is about making things hot for Russia whatever it takes and to create zone of problems along the Russian Federation perimeter.”
Asked about public sentiments about Russia in Georgia, Burjanadze responded that people are “upset” and “disappointment” over “mistakes” done by Russia towards Georgia, but “on the other hand I see more and more people understand more and more that mending ties is important.”
“But it won’t be right to call it ‘pro-Russian sentiments’… I would call it an attitude in favor of improving, normalizing relations with Russia… Such sentiments are growing,” she said, adding that her party is not “a pro-Russian force, it is pro-Georgian.”